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Cloud Strife

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Originally a member of SOLDIER, he is now a mercenary who will take any job...
—Description

Cloud Strife is the main protagonist in Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, and also appears in the spin-off games of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, including Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII- and Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, as a supporting character. He is to be the main character again for Final Fantasy VII Remake.

An arrogant and proud swordsman at first, Cloud introduces himself as a former member of an elite warrior unit called SOLDIER who has turned mercenary, and uninterested in anything beyond his hired task at hand. He later discovers the truth about his past and, with the help of his friends, learns there is more to being a hero than possessing physical strength and fame, developing compassion for the world and people he fights to protect.

ProfileEdit

AppearanceEdit

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Cloud is a man with light skin and is of average height with a lean and toned build. He has spiky blond hair that in Final Fantasy VII features one particularly long spike. Cloud's hair has become one of the trademarks of his appearance, although in later appearances the spikes have been toned down. Cloud has blue eyes, which glow due to him having being exposed to Mako. Because "Mako eyes" are iconic to members of SOLDIER, Cloud is often mistaken as one. His weapon is the Buster Sword, a massive sword several feet long which he wields in most of his appearances. Cloud's other trademark weapon is a set of Fusion Swords, which he uses in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. The set consists of six individual interconnecting swords that form a larger sword similar in shape and size to the Buster Sword.

Cloud's outfit in Final Fantasy VII is the standard uniform for 1st Class SOLDIER: indigo pants with a sleeveless shirt, and a belt. Cloud wears brown boots, gauntlets with a pauldron over his left shoulder and a SOLDIER band in his left wrist. This is the uniform he wears for most of his other appearances, with slight variations. He has a silver earring in his left ear.

In Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, Cloud wears the blue uniform of a Shinra Electric Power Company infantryman with several belts and straps and a green-gray piece of cloth around the collar. He wears his helmet to conceal his identity at times. After he gains the SOLDIER 1st class uniform his appearance is the same as in Final Fantasy VII, albeit with both shoulder pauldrons in-tact and the SOLDIER logo as it is in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-.

In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Cloud's clothing design was made with fighting in mind, and the concept began with a black robe and was restructured into the final version. Cloud's hair was changed both to show the passage of time since Final Fantasy VII, and to be more realistic. He wears a high collar sleeveless black shirt, black pants and boots, and black cloth covering his left leg and arm. Cloud gains a new pauldron, and his chest is covered by two straps, held in place by a badge representing Fenrir, a wolf that has come to be associated with him. Like the rest of the party, he wears a pink ribbon around his left arm, though it stays hidden for most of the movie.

In Kingdom Hearts, Cloud's costume was designed to resemble that of Vincent Valentine. He wears a tattered red cloak with dark blue pants and a shirt and brown boots. The costume features many crossing belts and gloves, the left of which has golden trimmings, almost like a claw. Cloud's most distinctive trait in this appearance is a demonic black wing protruding from his left shoulder, symbolizing both his connection to Sephiroth, and the dark powers he is using. The costume can be obtained as DLC in Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy. In Kingdom Hearts II, Cloud is identical to his appearance in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, save that his new sword is loosely bound as the Buster Sword was in Kingdom Hearts.

PersonalityEdit

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow. (Skip section)
Cloud Portrait
I pity you. You just don't get it at all... there's not a thing I don't cherish!
—Cloud to Sephiroth in Advent Children

In Final Fantasy VII, due to the combined effects of Mako poisoning and the influence of Jenova's cells in his body, Cloud unknowingly holds a fake persona created by the Jenova cells mixing his memories of Zack's personality with the cocky and selfish attitude he believes a SOLDIER 1st Class would have. After restoring his true personality, Cloud shows genuine concern for the Planet's fate, a sharp contrast to his persona at the start where he claimed he did not care and only agreed to help AVALANCHE for the right price. The true Cloud is open-minded and cares about the bonds he has forged with his friends.

In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and many related appearances, Cloud is a somber character, tormented by guilt over what he perceives as his past failings to save those he cares about. The final straw was contracting the terminal Geostigma plague, adding to his feelings of helplessness. Distancing from his friends and living alone, Cloud tries to keep his affliction secret. Cloud faces his past both metaphorically and literally, and with the shows of loyalty from the friends he tried to let go he comes to forgive himself and moves on. It is unclear what this ultimately means in terms of his personality and lifestyle.

In Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, Cloud is a shy, but more upbeat person who idolizes Zack and Sephiroth, but after being betrayed by his idol he does not hesitate to avenge.

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Cloud remains steadfastly loyal and true to those he cares about and is driven to protect them, going as far as to hide his pain and emotions so he would not worry them. His selfless and kind nature lets him overcome Sephiroth time and again. Cloud has a lighter side, crossdressing as a woman to save Tifa from Don Corneo's mansion. When the party arrives at Costa del Sol, Tifa asks Cloud what he thought about Barret dressed as a sailor; one option is to reply "He looked like a bear wearing a marshmallow," much to Barret's annoyance. He has a dry, ironic wit in Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII- and overall, while Cloud has a moody demeanor, his personality is not as brooding as that of Vincent Valentine.

Cloud suffers from motion sickness that is seemingly cured during the period he upholds a fake SOLDIER persona, but returns when his true self is restored, although him riding the Fenrir on delivery business suggests his motion sickness has since improved.

StoryEdit

Early lifeEdit

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Then later... I began to think I was different... that I was different from those immature kids.
—Cloud talking to Tifa about his childhood

Cloud was born in the mountain village of Nibelheim, and was a neighbor of a girl a year younger than him, Tifa Lockhart. His father died when he was young and he was raised by his mother. Cloud had no close friends and perhaps as a coping mechanism, convinced himself he was superior to the other village children and so didn't care for their company. He had a crush on Tifa, but hated her friends, calling them immature. Although the two consider each other (and are considered by others) to be childhood friends, by Tifa's own account they were not close growing up, despite him having been her neighbor.

When Cloud was nine, Tifa's mother died, and Tifa insisted she could meet her by crossing Mt. Nibel. Cloud followed her and when a bridge collapsed he fell when trying to save her. He escaped unharmed but Tifa's life was in grave danger. The townsfolk believed the expedition up the mountain to have been Cloud's idea, and Tifa's father forbade Cloud from approaching her. Cloud blamed himself for failing to save her and developed an anger problem, getting into fights for little to no reason.

At the age of fourteen Cloud learned of Sephiroth and his exploits. Resolving to become a hero like him, Cloud decided to set out and join SOLDIER. He called Tifa out to the water tower to tell her about his departure, hoping to impress her, and upon her request promised to save her if she ever found herself in trouble. The following spring, he left for Midgar, the metropolis that is Shinra's seat of power.

Shinra militantEdit

If only I were SOLDIER...
—Cloud talking to Zack in Nibelheim

Cloud's dreams were cut short; despite his bravado he never made it into SOLDIER and instead became a mere Shinra infantryman. On June 28th, 0001, Cloud is among those ordered to protect Professor Rayleigh in Midgar from the insurgency organization AVALANCHE. Though he is unsuccessful, their lives are saved by the Player Turk. During the incident Cloud displays impressive sword skills for a regular infantryman.

In autumn, while working for Shinra during Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, at the age of fifteen, he meets a first-class SOLDIER named Zack Fair on their way to Modeoheim and the two befriend after learning they are both "backwater experts". When he and Zack infiltrate a Mako Excavation Facility, they encounter Genesis Rhapsodos and Dr. Hollander, former Shinra employees who have turned against the company. When Hollander attempts to escape, Cloud briefly captures him. Hollander breaks free and Cloud gives pursuit, but both he and Tseng—the leader of the Turks, Shinra's intelligence agency—are taken down by the rogue SOLDIER 1st Class Angeal Hewley.

At the age of sixteen, Zack and Cloud meet again on September 0002 while protecting the city of Junon from Genesis's attack. On September 22nd, 0002, Cloud returns to Nibelheim along with Zack and Sephiroth to investigate a damaged Mako Reactor on Mt. Nibel, and Tifa is to act as their guide. Embarrassed of his failure to join SOLDIER, Cloud hides his identity from the townspeople, and especially Tifa, by always wearing his helmet, although he does visit his mother who asks about his new life with Shinra.

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Cloud defeats Sephiroth.

When the expedition reaches the reactor Sephiroth discovers Professor Hojo's experiments with makonoids and Jenova, whom Sephiroth mistakenly believes to be his mother. Cloud is knocked out by Genesis and is helped back into town by Tifa. When Cloud regains consciousness, he is angry at not being strong enough. Sephiroth locks himself in the Shinra Manor's basement, immersing in Professor Gast Faremis's writings, and discovers his dark past, as well the secrets regarding the Cetra and the Promised Land. On October 1st Sephiroth destroys the village on a rampage, fueled by his newfound hate for the "traitors" of the Ancients, the humans.

Cloud witnesses his mother's death in the ensuing fire and rushes to the reactor to confront Sephiroth where he finds both a gravely wounded Tifa and a barely conscious Zack. Cloud picks up Zack's Buster Sword, catches Sephiroth off guard in the reactor core, and impales him. When Cloud returns to attend to Tifa, a wounded Sephiroth emerges from the reactor core, but when Cloud attacks again, Sephiroth stabs him with his Masamune. Cloud summons previously unknown strength and uses the katana as a lever to hurl Sephiroth into the Mako pit below before collapsing.

Cloud and Zack, as well as other survivors in the town, become Professor Hojo's test subjects. Injecting them with Jenova's cells and exposing them to Mako, Hojo attempts to test his Jenova Reunion Theory and turns them into Sephiroth Clones, people whose wills can be over-ridden by Sephiroth's. Since Zack had gone through a similar process in SOLDIER, his body resists the experiments, but Cloud develops a severe Mako poisoning. Hojo labels the two failures, places them in a cryogenic sleeping state and leaves them in their pods in the Shinra Manor basement.

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Cloud after his and Zack's final conversation.

Four years later (December 19th, 0006) Zack breaks out of his confinement and helps a vegetative Cloud escape, giving him a SOLDIER uniform to wear as his old clothes are soaked with Mako. Due to the experiments Cloud is weak and delirious but during their journey Zack tells the unresponsive Cloud about his life and his plans for both of them to become mercenaries in Midgar. Though Cloud is unable to partake in the events, he is present when Zack defeats Genesis.

After almost a year of running, the pair arrives outside Midgar in September 0007. The Shinra forces catch up and Zack fights to defend both Cloud and himself against overwhelming numbers. Zack is gunned down, but the soldiers ignore the vegetative Cloud. He regains some awareness and crawls over to Zack who entrusts the Buster Sword to him, telling his legacy will live on inside Cloud, before dying. Buster Sword in hand, Cloud trudges off towards Midgar.

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Cloud with the Buster Sword at the end of Crisis Core.

Cloud undergoes a transformation due to the combined trauma caused by the Nibelheim incident, his Mako poisoning, and witnessing Zack's death. Cloud impresses Zack's memories and fighting abilities into his own, along with Tifa's memories of him and his own ideal image of himself as a SOLDIER, creating a new set of memories with an accompanying persona. What emerges in Cloud's mind is a reality in which he joined SOLDIER and was Sephiroth's partner—Zack did not exist—and in most of Cloud's twisted memories he takes Zack's place. Cloud presents himself in Midgar as a former 1st Class SOLDIER, now a mercenary for hire.

Mercenary days and AVALANCHEEdit

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Cloud outside Shinra Headquarters.

It's not my problem. The only thing I care about is finishin' this job before security and the Roboguards come.
—Cloud about AVALANCHE's mission to blow up the Sector 1 Reactor.

Tifa ran into Cloud at the Sector 7 Slums train station, finding him mumbling deliriously and being attended by a confused station worker. Though he became lucid upon recognizing her, his inconsistent memories, bouts of blackouts and head pains concern her, especially since once he recovers from these bouts he has no idea they'd happened. Now a member of the anti-Shinra terrorist group AVALANCHE, Tifa requested Cloud join the group so she can secretly keep an eye on his condition.

Cloud helps AVALANCHE attack the Sector 1 Reactor on December 9th. Claiming he does not care about the Planet and is only working for money, Cloud attempts to walk out after returning to AVALANCHE hideout in Tifa's 7th Heaven bar, but she reminds him of the promise he made to her after deciding to join SOLDIER.

Though Cloud puts up an indifferent front, he is more troubled than he lets on. A mysterious voice arises from within him every now and then, reminding him of something that happened in the past, but Cloud braves to ignore and suppress it.

After blowing up the Sector 5 Reactor, Cloud is separated from the others when he falls into the Sector 5 Church where he meets Aeris Gainsborough and agrees to become her bodyguard in exchange for a date. Cloud ignores the voice in his head that tries to talk to him while he was unconscious on the church flowerbed, and again when he spends the night at Aeris's house. Tifa enters a "dating service" with the prize being a night with a local crimelord, Don Corneo, to extract information out of him. Cloud and Aeris, after disguising Cloud as a woman, attempt to rescue her, and meet the Don who admits Shinra has discovered AVALANCHE's base of operations.

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Cloud riding the Hardy-Daytona during an FMV sequence.

To destroy AVALANCHE, Shinra drops the Sector 7 Plate of Midgar crushing the Sector 7 Slums. AVALANCHE members Jessie, Biggs and Wedge are killed trying to stop them, and Aeris is captured while taking Barret's daughter, Marlene, to safety. Cloud leads an attack on Shinra Headquarters to rescue her, where he meets Red XIII, and sees Jenova's headless remains stored in Hojo's lab, triggering another spout of hearing voices in his head. The group is captured and imprisoned, and during the night Cloud awakens to find the prison doors open and the guards slaughtered. He, Aeris, Barret, Tifa, and Red XIII follow a blood trail to the top floor and find President Shinra impaled on Sephiroth's katana. Cloud battles the new head of Shinra, Rufus, and escapes Midgar on a Hardy-Daytona motorcycle, the others riding alongside in a pickup.

Pursuit of SephirothEdit

The group stays at an inn outside Midgar in Kalm where Cloud tells his version of what happened on the day Nibelheim was burned, with himself in Zack's place and Zack no longer present. Although Tifa knows the story is not true, she remains silent. The next day the group sets out to track Sephiroth down, going through the Mythril Mine where the Turks reveal Sephiroth is headed for Junon. Cloud and the group sneak into Junon, and, after saving a girl called Priscilla from a monster, are allowed to sleep over. In his sleep a voice tells Cloud to ask Tifa about the time he returned to Nibelheim as a SOLDIER, but when he does Tifa evades his question. After a welcoming parade for Rufus's honor, Cloud and the party stow away on a cargo ship bound for Costa del Sol.

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The journey to find Sephiroth leads them through North Corel and the Gold Saucer, where the manager Dio gives Cloud and his friends a buggy to assist them in their travels, and the cat-robot Cait Sith joins their cause. The buggy breaks down, forcing the group to stay at Red XIII's hometown Cosmo Canyon, where the Elder Bugenhagen reveals critical information about the Planet and the Lifestream, and how Shinra's drilling for Mako affects them. When the group reaches Nibelheim they find the town rebuilt and inhabited by imposter villagers hired by Shinra who claim to have no recollection of either Cloud or Tifa, or the town ever having been burned down.

In the Shinra Mansion basement, Sephiroth appears and alludes to a "reunion" he feels Cloud should attend. Cloud and the group cross Mt. Nibel and visit Rocket Town where they escape on Cid Highwind's plane, only to have it shot down by Shinra soldiers. Adding Cid to their roster of allies, the group returns to Gold Saucer and claims the Keystone from Dio. Cloud and the group stay the night when the trolley to the park breaks down, and Cloud goes out with a party member. Cait Sith, who turns out to be a Shinra spy, steals the Keystone and turns it over to Tseng of the Turks.

Traveling to the Temple of the Ancients, Tseng is found gravely wounded after a struggle with Sephiroth, and he returns the Keystone. In the heart of the temple Cloud finds Sephiroth who reveals his plan to call the Ultimate Black Magic, Meteor, to deal a critical wound to the Planet. His plan is to have the Lifestream emerge to heal it so he can absorb its energy, becoming a god. Sephiroth leaves as Cloud discovers the temple itself is the Black Materia needed to summon Meteor.

Cait Sith sacrifices himself to get the Black Materia, but Sephiroth returns, and because Cloud had been injected with Jenova cells during his four-year-long captivity in Shinra Manor, Sephiroth has control over Cloud, who hands over the Black Materia. Cloud goes berserk and attacks Aeris, but his friends—including a new version of Cait Sith—knock him out. While unconscious, Aeris appears to Cloud in a dream, claiming only she can stop Sephiroth. When Cloud regains consciousness Barret and Tifa tell him Aeris has left, and Cloud resolves to follow her.

Cloud and company pursue Aeris through the Sleeping Forest to the Forgotten Capital where he finds her praying on an altar in the center of the city's underground complex. Cloud takes up the Buster Sword and attempts to attack her, his mind under Sephiroth's control. Stopping himself in the nick of time when his allies shout at him to stop, Sephiroth descends from above the altar and kills Aeris, impaling her with his Masamune. The party mourns Aeris's passing as Cloud rests her body in the lake. Cloud laments to the party his having been under Sephiroth's control, despairing that he is unable to anticipate when he may become controlled again, but his allies persuade him to continue despite this.

MeteorfallEdit

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Cloud in an FMV.

Arriving at the North Crater, the party regains the Black Materia and Cloud gives it to a party member as he does not trust himself. Sephiroth appears and shows Cloud a partial vision of what really happened at Nibelheim, revealing Zack's presence in his stead but not Cloud's true part in the events. Shinra arrives and Professor Hojo reveals his Jenova Reunion Theory that Cloud is a part of. Cloud comes to believe he was created by Hojo and even his name and memories of being Tifa's childhood friend belong to someone else. The shock of his fabricated past shatters Cloud's mind and destroys his morale. Using an illusion to trick the party member with the Black Materia into coming to Cloud's aid, Sephiroth has Cloud take it back and he hands it to Sephiroth's true body stored at the crater—the "Sephiroth" they had pursued before was but Jenova's body morphed into his image—who uses it to summon Meteor. After Cloud apologizes to Tifa for "not being the real Cloud", the crater shakes and Cloud falls into the Lifestream.

Surfacing at Mideel a week later, Cloud has been subjected to intense Mako poisoning within the Lifestream leaving him paralyzed and incoherent, in a state similar to when Zack rescued him from Shinra Manor a year before. Tifa stays to care for him while the rest of the party fights Shinra, who is risking an attempt to stop the Meteor now approaching the Planet. Ultimate Weapon, one of the Weapons created by the Planet to protect it, attacks Mideel, and Tifa and Cloud fall into the Lifestream and into Cloud's Subconscious where Tifa meets the "true Cloud".

The "true Cloud" is the part of himself Cloud had tried to deny and the one who remembers his past not as a SOLDIER member, but as a regular footsoldier. This Cloud appears as a young version of him, and is the origin of the voices in Cloud's head who had tried to remind him of his true self. Tifa helps Cloud piece together the memories of his childhood by comparing their memories to find which are true, and encourages Cloud to believe in his existence. Restored to his true self, Cloud resumes command of the party and is no longer plagued by an inner voice, finally accepting the truth about who he is.

Shinra's attempt to destroy the Meteor with Huge Materia fails, but Cloud's party is trapped in the Shinra No. 26 rocket when it takes off. While in the escape pod on their way back to the Planet, the party marvels how small the Planet is in the vastness of space, reaffirming their conviction to protect it. With Bugenhagen's guidance they discover Aeris had summoned the ultimate white magic spell Holy before Sephiroth killed her. It could stop Meteor, but Sephiroth is holding it back.

After Diamond Weapon attacks Midgar and Cloud and the party stop Hojo from relaunching the Sister Ray Mako Cannon to give Sephiroth a boost of energy, the group lands in the North Crater. Cloud asks everyone to find a reason to fight, and while the others depart he and Tifa spend the night under the stars. The next day the party descends through the Northern Cave to the depths of the Planet to confront Sephiroth. After Sephiroth's new god-like form is defeated, his mind is sent back into the Lifestream. Cloud, sensing Sephiroth is not dead, follows him mentally into the Lifestream and defeats Sephiroth in a final duel of will. He returns to his body with help from Aeris. Cloud and the party escape the crater on the Highwind moments before Holy emerges to destroy Meteor. The Meteor's proximity causes Holy to hold back its full power, but Aeris commands the Lifestream to push Meteor back so Holy may destroy it and save the Planet.

Post-crisisEdit

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Cloud, as he appears in the animated version of Case of Denzel.

In On the Way to a Smile: Case of Tifa, Cloud and Tifa build a new life together in the new city on Midgar's outskirts, called Edge. Cloud sets up a delivery business, the Strife Delivery Service. One day while visiting Aerith's old church an orphan boy, Denzel, whose family was killed when the Sector 7 plate fell, finds Cloud's cellphone on his motorcycle. After Denzel attempts to call his home in Sector 7 and receives an error message, he calls 7th Heaven which he finds in Cloud's recent call log. Tifa picks up and asks Denzel why he has Cloud's cellphone. Denzel begins to cry and collapses from Geostigma. Cloud takes him home to live with him, Barret's daughter Marlene, and Tifa.

Although their new life as a family is happy, Cloud becomes insular. He admits to Tifa his problems are because "you can't reclaim lost lives", referring to his perceived guilt in the deaths of Aerith and Zack. He leaves, secretly moving out into the Sector 5 Church.

In Case of the Lifestream, Cloud is mentioned as being the core of Sephiroth's being. By focusing on his hatred of Cloud, Sephiroth avoids dissolution in the Lifestream, and believes Cloud's memories of him allow him to survive and be revived. Aerith thinks of Cloud during her attempts to battle Sephiroth's influence, resolving to contact him and help him fight Sephiroth's infection on the Lifestream at the source—the plague Geostigma.

In Final Fantasy VII Lateral Biography Turks -The Kids Are Alright-, needing fuel for his truck, Evan calls Strife Delivery Service from the phone in Dr. Drake's office and talks briefly with Denzel to arrange a meeting with Cloud. While waiting, Dr. Drake discusses a book he's reading, which details the experiments conducted on Jenova by the Shinra Science Department. When Cloud arrives, he informs Evan that if he wants to buy fuel there are three sources: the remnants of the Shinra Company, the World Regenesis Organization, and Don Corneo. Evan explains he's going to travel to Nibelheim to find a missing SOLDIER, and Cloud tells him to ask about the village at 7th Heaven, Tifa's new bar in Edge.

Geostigma crisisEdit

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Cloud in Advent Children.

I'm not fit to help anyone. Not my family. Not my friends. Nobody.
—Cloud to Tifa

In 0009, two years after the events of Final Fantasy VII during Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Cloud has left to look for a cure for Denzel's Geostigma and is infected himself due to his Jenova cells. Cloud has fallen into a cycle of guilt and depression, and so avoids calls from his friends. Cloud receives a call from Tifa that the Turk Reno has a job for him, and he is attacked by a mysterious trio of young men, three manifestations of Sephiroth's consciousness. In Healen Lodge Cloud is surprised to find Rufus Shinra alive, having survived Diamond Weapon's attack on Midgar, and suffering from Geostigma. Rufus offers Cloud to join them to fight the trio, led by Kadaj. Cloud rejects the offer after Reno brings up the idea of rebuilding Shinra.

Cloud arrives at Aerith's church to find an unconscious Tifa on the flower bed, having been beaten by Loz—one of the remnants of Sephiroth—when she went looking for him. Marlene, Barret's adopted daughter, has been kidnapped and Cloud's Materia stash stolen. Cloud passes out from a Geostigma attack and he and Tifa are discovered by the Turks Reno and Rude who bring them to 7th Heaven to recover.

The three remnants kidnap children with Geostigma, among them Denzel, intending to have the children lead them to Jenova's remains. Although unsure if he should fight, Cloud goes to the Forgotten Capital after encouragement from Tifa and the Turks. On the way he is visited by an apparition of Aerith, and declares he is searching for forgiveness. Upon seeing Denzel and the other children under Kadaj's control, Cloud confronts the trio but is outmatched and rescued by Vincent Valentine who explains the true nature of Geostigma to him—a plague caused by Jenova's cells.

Marlene runs into Cloud's arms worried about Denzel but refusing to go home when Cloud asks Vincent to take her. Cloud resolves to take Marlene home and confront Kadaj. Back in Edge, Kadaj threatens Rufus and summons Bahamut SIN to attack the city. After Cloud drops Marlene off at the bar where she tells him not to give up, he finds the strength to take up arms again. After rescuing Tifa and Denzel he defeats Bahamut SIN with help from his old allies. He takes on Loz and Yazoo while chasing Kadaj through the Midgar Highway, and slices their weapons (and Loz's bike) in half. Loz and Yazoo are seemingly killed in the explosion set by Reno and Rude during the chase. Confronting Kadaj the battle takes Cloud back to Aerith's church where the Lifestream-infused water sprouting from the destroyed flowerbed cures him of Geostigma.

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Cloud begins "Omnislash Version 5".

Cloud battles Kadaj once more but the remnant absorbs Jenova's remains he had obtained from Rufus earlier, and Sephiroth is reborn. The ensuing battle at the ruins of the Shinra Building nearly kills Cloud, but Sephiroth makes the mistake of asking what is most important to Cloud and how he can take that away from him. Inspired by thoughts of his friends, living and dead, Cloud regains his strength and overwhelms Sephiroth. Defeated, Sephiroth dissipates, leaving a dying Kadaj in his place.

Loz and Yazoo return and set off a kamikaze explosion that apparently kills all three of them, but Cloud is healed by Aerith's intervention, reawakening in the pool that now occupies the church. After helping Denzel into the pool's Lifestream-infused water to cure him of Geostigma, Cloud spots apparitions of Aerith and Zack near the doorway. Before they leave, Aerith's final words ensure Cloud will be all right. He silently replies that he will, because he knows he is not alone anymore.

After everything is over, the newly polished Buster Sword is moved to Aerith's church from the hill Zack died on that has a grove of yellow flowers. Denzel asks if the place is a grave, to which Cloud responds it is not: it is the place where a hero began his journey.

ReminiscenceEdit

In a DVD extra, Cloud is making deliveries while taking calls from his friends. One call is from Vincent Valentine who has recently purchased a cellphone, asking Cloud to tell Yuffie she has no right to call him. Cloud makes a run to Barret's place and receives three packages: one for Marlene, one for Denzel, and a "Closed for Business" sign from Yuffie who has been trying to get a hold of him. The last call is to Tifa, asking her to close the bar the next day.

Deepground conflictEdit

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Cloud in Dirge of Cerberus.

One year later (0010) during Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII-, Cloud is not seen during the attack on Edge (assumed to have spirited away Denzel and Marlene). He assists the World Regenesis Organization and Vincent Valentine against the threat of Omega and Deepground and leads the ground assault on Midgar, facing Rosso the Crimson, and he and the others aid Vincent in defeating Omega.

Spoilers end here.

GameplayEdit

Final Fantasy VIIEdit

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Cloud is the main playable party member, who serves as the party leader throughout the majority of the game, aside from the times Tifa or Cid take over. He wields large broadswords in battle, with the most powerful Limit Breaks (though they are the most difficult to achieve). Cloud has the most balanced stats and is the most powerful character, making him effective both at dealing damage with attacks and at casting Magic. His ultimate weapon is the Ultima Weapon, which deals more damage based on how full his HP is.

As the party leader, Cloud participates in all minigames, and is present in field gameplay and on the world map. Due to his position as leader, he cannot be removed from a party. There is also a hidden gameplay attribute that determine which party member will date him in Gold Saucer.

Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII-Edit

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Cloud is fought as a boss in the Training Mode.

Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-Edit

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Though Cloud is not playable himself, Zack gets Cloud's portrait to the Digital Mind Wave. When Cloud's portraits line up during modulating phase, Zack performs Meteor Shots, his versions of Cloud's Meteorain Limit Break. Cloud is added to Zack's DMW after Zack meets him partway through chapter 6.

Creation and developmentEdit

There wasn't really much controversy or criticism about having him as the hero from within Square, but he is definitely a mysterious character. That's one of the game's main themes, the fact that the protagonist has all these secrets to unravel. He isn't a straightforward hero like Superman; rather, he has lots of mysteries, self-doubts, and a real dark side. Mr. Nomura was also very good at designing a character like that.
—Yoshinori Kitase, Electronic Gaming Monthly, October 2005

Final Fantasy VIIEdit

Cloud Strife Sketch2

Cloud was one of the first three characters designed for Final Fantasy VII by Tetsuya Nomura with influences from producer Yoshinori Kitase, scenario writer Kazushige Nojima and director Hironobu Sakaguchi. Originally conceptualized by Sakaguchi as one of only three playable characters (the others being Barret Wallace and Aerith Gainsborough) Nomura was called upon to supervise Cloud's various lines and personality traits while Kitase and Nojima were in charge of developing Cloud's background and his relationship with Sephiroth.

Nojima thought of the relationship between the player and the protagonist when writing for Final Fantasy VII. In an interview in Final Fantasy 20th Anniversary Ultimania Nojima makes a comparison to Dragon Quest where the main character doesn't have a set personality and the player is free to "become" the hero. In a case of an RPG protagonist whose name and past have already been decided, Nojima tries to come up with ways to get the player to empathize with the character. The characters living in a game's universe know their world well, but it's a new place to the player, and so Cloud's foggy memories were created as a way to introduce the player to the world.

Cloud Strife Sketch

In early drafts Cloud was meant to be more directly controlled by Sephiroth. As Sephiroth fell to his death in the Nibelheim Mako Reactor, his strong will to live would have manifested itself in Cloud as he needed a body that could move freely to bring him the Black Materia. It would be told that Cloud's memories are a phantom created by Sephiroth himself out of his emotions when he was "killed" in the Nibelheim Reactor. Cloud would later have discovered that due to the SOLDIER process, Sephiroth was directly trying to take control of him, and that Cloud's own complexes combined with Sephiroth's willpower, created his alternate persona that obscured who Cloud really was. This version was altered after the introduction of Jenova and the fleshing out of Zack's story.

The game's directors only had a vague image of Cloud's identity, mainly that it was intended as mysterious, but the actual unfolding of events was left in Nojima's hands. Event planner Motomu Toriyama had made the "Cloud showing off" pose, which was made to be be used in the scene where Cloud first appears. This little animation impressed Nojima, and lead to him determining Cloud's false persona based on that pose.[4]

Cloud Victory Pose Sketch

Concept art of Cloud's victory pose.

After figuring out Cloud's identity issues the rest of the scenario came together. Nojima made not only the scenario but the event scenes as well, and the parts where the mysteries are made clear. The team ended up doing the test play with no idea how it was going to end, and that's how they first found out the true course of events. Zack was a character Nojima brought in while building up the mystery, so the others had no clue he would be such a pivotal character.[5]

Cloud was the first person created for the game by Tetsuya Nomura.[4] Cloud's original character design called for slicked-back, black hair with no spikes. This depiction was to serve as a contrast to the long, flowing silver hair of Sephiroth, and also because Nomura thought it would be better not to use too many polygons.[6] However, to make Cloud stand out more and emphasize his role in the game as the lead protagonist, Nomura altered Cloud's design to give him spiky blond hair instead. Aspects of Cloud's original design were later used in designing Angeal Hewley for Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-. The image of Cloud and Sephiroth was based on Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojirō[6], famous Japanese warriors whose duel became legendary and the swordsmen have appeared in many forms in pop culture in Japan.

Lift-demovii

Cloud in the 1996 Final Fantasy VII demo.

Originally listed as a "Mystic Knight (Berserker)", Cloud's weapon, the Buster Sword, was smaller, its size increasing as Nomura redesigned Cloud. Nomura nicknamed it "the Giant Kitchen Knife" due to how he originally envisioned it. The sword was meant to be held on his back via magnets and have a small chain.

Pre-release material reveals what is possibly an early character model for Cloud. In the 1996 demo version Cloud's menu portrait is the young Cloud portrait seen during the Kalm flashback to the Nibelheim Incident in the final game, and his character model is different and shorter than his finalized model. This "Demo Cloud" makes appearances in other pre-release shots published in magazines before the game was out. Cloud's battle model also had an earlier buildBeta-cloud-prerelease, wielding a different version of the Buster Sword that had only one slot as opposed to two seen in the final game.

Final Fantasy VII: Advent ChildrenEdit

Ff7ac-cloud-concept2

Cloud's design is an accumulation of eight designs the staff made, ranging from deformed to realistic. In The Reunion Files for Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Tetsuya Nomura explained that while Cloud was depicted as a more upbeat character at the end of Final Fantasy VII, he chose to have Cloud be a character fans would find more familiar, and the script was written to explain why Cloud had returned to such a frame of mind.[7] Nomura said a great deal of care was taken to animate Cloud's face and expressions, and over thirty different models of his face were made. His face was modeled to keep "a stiff upper lip", with his emotions and thoughts being expressed through his eyes. Numerous scenes featuring close-ups of Cloud's face were redone with adjusted facial expressions and lighting to convey the intended emotions.[8]

On explaining Cloud's situation in the film, Nomura said that "Cloud tried to lead his life positively after the end of FF7 but he cracked... The sin which Cloud thinks he owns is not anyone's fault in particular. It is something Cloud has to overcome by himself." Cloud, in choosing to fight Sephiroth once again, is finally "given healing and forgiveness".

Nomura admits that in the film, "Cloud seems to be a weak guy. Generally, heroes are strong, cool and don't have any weaknesses... Although Cloud is a jerk sometimes, he is really human-like. It's through redemption from his friends and having children to protect that he becomes stronger."

Cloud's new weaponry was created based on jokes by fans who commented that, since Cloud's weapon in the original game was enormous, in a sequel he should go with sheer numbers. Although it does not have an official name, the staff named them the "Fusion Swords" during the film's development. The concept was to have Cloud hold a total of six swords he would carry on his back, but it was changed to six interlocking swords forming a single weapon. Although the film's staff originally thought doing sequences with the Fusion Swords was impossible, they decided to make it as they found it made an interesting twist to the battles.

VoiceEdit

Cloud's English voice actor, Kingdom Hearts included, is Steve Burton. In the Japanese versions of Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring he was voiced by Kenyu Horiuchi (Arcade version) and Nozomu Sasaki (PS version), but for rest of his appearances he has been voiced by Takahiro Sakurai. Cloud shares his Compilation of Final Fantasy VII Japanese voice actor with Kurasame Susaya from Final Fantasy Type-0.

Musical themesEdit

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"Main Theme of Final Fantasy VII"
Music-harp
FFVII Main Theme
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Though it is not his official theme, in Final Fantasy VII Cloud's theme is often considered to be the "Main Theme of Final Fantasy VII". It plays on the world map in Final Fantasy VII before the party acquires the Highwind.

His theme is called "Cloud Smiles" in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. It is played in the ending when Cloud awakens in Aerith's church.

"FINAL FANTASY VII Symphony in Three Movements" is a symphony arranged and orchestrated by Jonne Valtonen for the Final Symphony concert series. The second movement deals with the themes of love, loss and uncertainty as Cloud is undecided in his feelings towards Aerith and Tifa. The movement begins with "Words Drowned by Fireworks", a scene in which Cloud goes on a date that ends abruptly. The music moves forward representing the themes of Tifa, Cloud and Aerith—the three themes that are always present, each one featured up front as a main theme at certain phase of the movement.[9]

Other appearancesEdit

Cloud Strife has appeared in the following games throughout the Final Fantasy series:

Non-Final Fantasy guest appearancesEdit

Cloud has made key guest appearances in the following non-Final Fantasy games:

Other mediaEdit

Zidane ref cloud

Zidane makes a reference to Cloud.

GamesEdit

Cloud makes many minor cameos, but not guest appearances, in other games in the series:

  • In the instruction manual for Final Fantasy Origins, Cloud is an example name chosen for the Warrior class in Final Fantasy.
  • In Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII- there are several posters of Cloud around Edge, showing a silhouette of his original artwork from Final Fantasy VII on a green background.
  • Cloud's name makes a cameo in the Final Fantasy VIII shop in Esthar City with the title "Cloud's Shop".
  • In Final Fantasy IX, Zidane says "no cloud nor squall shall hinder us" during the production of I Want To Be Your Canary, referring to Cloud and Squall Leonhart, the protagonist of Final Fantasy VIII. Zidane later comments "I remember a guy with spiky hair who carried something like this" when he sees a large sword, similar to Cloud's Buster Sword, hanging in a weapon shop.
    • Later in the game the player can witness a soldier, Pluto Knight VII, attempting to woo a flower girl in a destroyed city, who comments, "He's cute, but he isn't exactly Mr. Personality."
  • In Final Fantasy Dimensions, when the Mysterious Old Man tries to introduce himself as "Clou-", Alba replies her name might as well be "Aeri-".
  • An NPC in the Miner quests in 1.0 version of Final Fantasy XIV mistakenly called players by the wrong name. He would call a Midlander Hyur "Cloud", and a Miqo'te "Aerith".
    • Cloud Strife is also among the names used in example sentences for the chat log filtering configuration.
  • Users in Square Enix Members Virtual World community can make their character appear as Cloud in his Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children attire. The avatar was released to celebrate the Japanese release of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete.

Additionally, Cloud has been referenced in many games outside of Final Fantasy:

  • In Parasite Eve II, there is a laboratory where Aya Brea tries to use a computer infected with a virus called "Fatekeeper". The anti-virus, "Cloud", is found inside the September issue of a magazine called "Aeris".
  • In Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring, Cloud's moveset are a combination of Ehrgeiz characters moves consist of Clair Andrew's Rave Kicks, Prince Doza's Kickboxing Combos, Han Daehan's Heel Smash, Koji Masuda's PK combo and Ken "Godhand" Mishima's Back Punch and his Dragon Uppercut. When wielding the Buster Sword, his charge meter will slowly deplete when it is used; it is also depleted when utilizing his Limit Break while wielding the weapon.
  • Cloud's costume in Gunslinger Stratos 2 was released in November 2014.
  • Cloud appears in the game Mainichi Issho, but as a costume only.
  • Like Sephiroth, Vincent, Aerith, and Tifa's, Cloud's costume is available for LittleBigPlanet 2.
  • The internet MMORPG Kingdom of Loathing features an enemy called the Protagonist, a parody of Cloud, featuring item drops such as the Ridiculously Huge Sword and Super-Spiky Hair Gel.

FandomEdit

Cloud makes a brief cameo in two strips in the fan-made webcomic 8-Bit Theater as a potential Light Warrior. His attempts to prove his skills to Fighter are to use an overly-long and flashy summon sequence to summon a chocobo, and showing off the Buster Sword, which he is unable to hold due to its weight. Fighter falls asleep during the summon sequence, and rejects him as a Light Warrior when the Buster Sword falls on him.

Link VS Cloud DEATH BATTLE!

Cloud appears in ScrewAttack's DEATH BATTLE series against Link from the Legend of Zelda series. During the battle, Cloud uses the Firaga and Thundaga Materia, as well as many of his Limit Breaks. Cloud ultimately lost due to Link being able to endure Cloud's assaults with the Hylian Shield and Golden Gauntlets.

Cloud makes a guest appearance in Monty Oum's Dead Fantasy series in his Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children attire, wielding the main blade of his Fusion Swords and riding the Fenrir motorcycle. His debut appearance is Dead Fantasy IV and he demonstrates using one of his Limit Break, Blade Beam, to knock most of the Kasumi Alpha clones flying away to save Yuna. As Cloud and Yuna are ready to strike the clones, Kasumi, Yuna's main rival, tells them that she can deal her antagonist clones and teleports away. Cloud later drives his motorcycle along with Yuna.

In Dead Fantasy V, Cloud is seen in Tifa's flashback after the former was incapacitated by Tenjin Mon Sect ninjas. He stopped Tifa from falling into the cliff, but failed, as a white feather appears to float away which leads him to find Tifa in a luxurious city. Cloud is last seen with Yuna watching the helicopter that Helena and Hitomi ride along with an injured Tifa. In the upcoming Dead Fantasy IX, Cloud's main rival was to be Helena Douglas as he and Yuna would infiltrate DOATEC to save Tifa. Since Monty's death, the series ended up in a permanent hiatus. In one of the previews, Cloud was seen talking to Denzel, voiced by his current Japanese voice actor, Takahiro Sakurai.

TelevisionEdit

In the TV show Coconut Fred's Fruit Salad Island, Fred parodies Cloud in the episode "Sir Nutalot". It is said Fred is taking the role of the hero. A Sephiroth parody also appears in the episode.

In the Adult Swim show Robot Chicken (Season 2, episode "Rodiggiti"), Cloud, Tifa, Yuffie, Barret, Aerith and Sephiroth appear as employees at a burger chain. Cloud Strife is the fry cook, Barret is a burger chef, Aeris is working the register, while Tifa and Yuffie have unclear roles, and Sephiroth is the manager. "One-Winged Angel" plays humorously during Sephiroth's entrance with lyrics consisting only of HAM-BUH-GAH! said over and over.

In the Cartoon Network show Steven Universe (season 1, episode 16 "Steven the Sword Fighter"), the main character, Steven, plays with action figures of video game characters, among them CloudSteven-Universe-Cloud-Action-Figure. The character Holo-Pearl impalesSteven-Universe-Cloud-Impaled the Cloud's figure in the same manner Sephiroth did during the Nibelheim incident.

MerchandiseEdit

Cloud has appeared in numerous action figures, cold cast statues and other merchandise.

GalleryEdit

EtymologyEdit

The names "Cloud" and "Strife" are English words referring to weather and difficulty respectively. Tetsuya Nomura has stated Cloud's name contrasts with Zack Fair's and the idea of "fair weather", in that Zack lead a peaceful and happy life while Cloud's has been full of turmoil.

In the French translation of Final Fantasy VII, Cloud's name is rendered as "Clad" to be more faithful to French pronunciation ("Cloud" in French would be pronounced as "clood", rhyming with "mood"). His name is rendered as "Cloud Strife" in all other Compilation of Final Fantasy VII entries.

TriviaEdit

  • In his artwork and CG render showing him mounted on the Hardy DaytonaCloud motorcycle for Final Fantasy VII, his weapon is the Hardedge rather than the Buster Sword, which can be stolen from SOLDIER:3rd in Shinra Headquarters.
  • In the Nibelheim flashback sequence in Final Fantasy VII, Cloud's menu portrait is different from his usual portrait. Cloud is one of only a handful of characters to have more than one menu portrait in a game. This portrait is also used for Cloud in the 1996 Final Fantasy VII demo.
  • Cloud has the most player-controlled appearances of any character in the Final Fantasy series, and the second-most appearances altogether, behind Gilgamesh.
  • Cloud Strife is the central topic of two Square Enix promotional books, CLOUD Vol 1 and CLOUD message.
  • Cloud and Zack's Japanese voice actors, Takahiro Sakurai and Kenichi Suzumura, are best friends in real life and have appeared together in many anime productions, as well as having their own production mini-group, R-16.
  • If the player recruits Vincent after the events in Gaea's Cliff and Mideel, the dialogue between the two will remain as if Cloud never knew about his true past; Cloud still claims he was in SOLDIER.
  • A party of Cid and Cloud offers the fastest Materia growth out of every other combination, assuming Cid is equipped with the Javelin and Cloud is equipped with the Apocalypse. Javelin has 5 double slots for an overall growth of 10 while Apocalypse has 3 triple growth for an overall growth of 9.
  • At the start of Final Fantasy VII if one opens the menu and checks Cloud's status the amount of experience needed to level up to Level 7 is 35 EXP. However, upon winning the first battle, that amount decreases to only 6 EXP.

External linksEdit

ReferencesEdit


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