The Digital Mind Wave, often abbreviated as DMW, is the Limit Break system in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-. It consists of three reels in the upper-left corner of the screen which spin continuously like a slot machine, and eventually stop on a random selection of three portraits and a number per portrait. Depending on the results, the player receives a status buff, level up, or can execute a special attack.
Though not stated in-game, the Digital Mind Wave is a representation of Zack's thoughts, which is why his emotions can affect its results during gameplay and flashbacks of Zack's life appear when the reels spin during Modulating Phase. The English-version website for Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- explains that SOLDIER members are taught to call upon their past experiences in battle to heighten their strength and improve their skills further, namely, levelling up.
The three reels of the DMW spin automatically during battle, with each spin costing 10 SP. When the DMW spins, the left reel stops first, then the right. If the left and right portrait are the same, this initiates Modulating Phase, also known as a Limit Verge. If they are different, the center reel stops and the three numbers spinning alongside each reel also stop. Depending on the number results, Zack may receive a status buff for a short time. Once the three reels stop and any relevant effects have been applied, they begin spinning again, provided Zack has at least 10SP and is not suffering from the Curse ailment.
At the start of the game only Angeal and Sephiroth are available, while all other character portraits are silhouettes. As the game progresses, more characters will be added to the DMW. Summons can also be added by finding their Materia (as key items), while the Chocobo Mode characters of Chocobo, Moogle, Tonberry, Cactuar, Cait Sith and Magic Pot also each have a unique key item that adds them to the DMW.
An important factor and feature is the Emotion Gauge, gauging Zack's own temperament and emotional condition throughout the game. Located atop the DMW's reels with an oscilloscope, these emotional states help affect the success ratio of the DMW, from placing the player at a disadvantage, to placing the player at a state with a higher chance of achieving matching numbers and portraits for status buffs and Limit Verges.
In addition to gauging Zack's current emotional state, at certain points during gameplay, Zack's emotions towards particular characters will be heightened, announced by the message "Heightened Emotions Have Affected the DMW." This causes a character's portrait to have a greater chance of appearing on the reels; in addition, equipping certain Support Materia also increases the chances of certain characters appearing. These heightened factors will signify themselves rightmost of the Emotion Gauge, with the portrait of the individual in mind and their multiplied probability of Zack performing their respective Limit ability.
Note that these multipliers do not increase the chances of getting a Limit Verge or Limit Break; instead, they merely change the relative probabilities of the characters.
|Level||Modulating Phase Chance||Effect|
|Low||2.3%||Lowers chances of beneficial results, is a negative status cured with gaining certain level five Limit Breaks or Lucky Stars. Is inflicted by certain attacks.|
|Normal||4.7%||Standard state, normal likelihood of entering Modulating Phase.|
|High||6.3%||Increases attack power slightly, higher chances of beneficial results.|
|Sky High||7.8%||Increases attack power significantly, better chances of beneficial results.|
|Heavenly||18.8%||Highest emotion state, attack power is greatly increased, highest probability of getting beneficial results.|
If the left and right portraits on the DMW stop on the same character, the DMW enters "Modulating Phase," also called a "Limit Verge." The DMW reels take up the full screen as the center reel finishes spinning, and during this time one of several things may happen:
- A short flashback scene will play of the character whose portraits are displayed.
- One to five stills of a past scene in the game will appear.
- Chocobo Mode or Summon Mode will begin.
- "Genesis Mode" will randomly activate. The DMW will glow red, and Genesis's portrait will replace the two matching portraits while the center reel spins. This will also add Genesis to the DMW until Zack has been incapacitated, drinks the Shinra Marketing employee's sample potion, or moves onto another chapter.
Barring the DMW switching to Summon Mode, Chocobo Mode, or Genesis Mode, the center reel will spin and stop, after which the numbers will stop. If all three portraits in the DMW match, Zack will gain HP, MP, and AP; depending on the level and the equipment of a Feather Cap, the amount given will possibly break their set limits, gain a great amount of SOLDIER Points, and finally, Zack will execute a Limit Break. He can execute the Limit even while Stopped or Stunned. The level of the Limit Break depends on a number of modifiers, including the level of the Emotion Gauge, the numbers alongside the reels, and if any flashbacks occurred during modulating phase.
All Limit Breaks have a level of one to five. If the Limit Break does damage, a higher level will do more damage. If the Limit Break grants a status buff, a higher level will cause the buff(s) to last longer. Depending on the level and the kind of Limit Break performed, the Emotion gauge will lower by one level until Normal status, unless the Limit Break can bring the Emotion level to a higher state, or cancels out the reduction, keeping the status in place. Despite what it may look like, the three Digital Mind Wave reels do not act independently; a single process controls the whole task. The numbers on the reels, however, are random, with the exception of 777.
Regardless of whether the center reel stops to match the outer two, if the three numbers line up as three 7s, Zack will increase in level by one. If any two numbers lower than seven line up, the Materia in that equipment slot will level up - for example, if two 4s line up, the fourth Materia Zack is equipped with increases by one level. If all numbers match up but are not 7s, that Materia will level up by two levels, in this case, the fourth Materia gains two levels if three 4s line up. Though it appears that leveling up is random, it is not entirely so. Zack does gain EXP for defeating enemies, but it is a hidden value. The DMW will not line up three 7s until Zack earns enough EXP for it to do so. Once Zack has enough EXP, the DMW has a chance to line up three 7s, but it is not a guarantee. For this reason, the player cannot simply level up by letting the reels spin over and over, they are still required to defeat enemies to earn EXP.
In addition to all of the above, when Zack acquires all the portraits and summons that appear on the DMW, the player receives a Fury Ring. When the player has viewed all the random flashback scenes for each character and summoned all the summons at least once, including the characters in Chocobo Mode, they receive Genji Armor. All the characters start with 10% complete, and for the six main characters, the player needs to have seen six flashback scenes in total for 100%; four count for 10% each, and two count for 25% each. Genesis is an exception and has two scenes, 45% each.
If none of the special modes activate (below), the Modulating Phase will enter Normal Mode, where one of the regular Limit Breaks can be used. Regardless of modes, Level 5 Limit Breaks have a chance of increasing the Emotion Gauge by a random amount.
If the Limit Break is a single-target, a random enemy on the battlefield will be chosen. It is possible to hit long-distance targets Zack wouldn't otherwise be able to target with Limit Breaks.
|Start of the game||48||54||60||66||76||160px|
|Performs an all out attack that hits at once against one enemy. Physical attack|
|Start of the game||9||11||15||18||22||160px|
|Performs an eight sequence special attack against one enemy. Physical attack|
|Start of the game||6||7||8||9||10||160px|
|Two sequences of seven physical attacks, then a final diving attack. Each of the three sequences has different power and can hit a different enemy. Ignores Vitality, final hit inflicts Stun, may grant Endure status. Emotion Gauge increases by 1 for Level 5 attack.||7||8||9||10||11|
|Start of Chapter 3||40||44||48||64||72||160px|
|Zack calls in a combat helicopter to launch an assault against all enemies. Physical attack|
|Partway through Chapter 4||10 sec.||15 sec.||20 sec.||40 sec.||80 sec.||160px|
|Zack hits an all time emotional high, becoming inspired and feeling extraordinarily lucky. Gives the critical status making all attacks Critical Hits for period of time. Emotion Gauge increases in accordance to the Level of Lucky Stars.|
|Start of Chapter 5||3 sec.||5 sec.||8 sec.||10 sec.||20 sec.||160px|
|Finds the calm within battle and settles his mind, receiving a blessing from above. Fully heals HP, MP, and AP, breaks limits, heals status ailments and grants temporary invincibility.|
|Partway through Chapter 6||44||48||64||72||80||160px|
|Zack summons the strength to send down an aerial rain of meteors onto all opposition. Magical attack|
At any time during Modulating Phase while the center reel spins, a blue star symbol will fill the screen. This activates Summon Mode, where the portraits in the DMW change to summon portraits and all three reels spin again. Similar to Modulating Phase, if three portraits match a summon will be called. All summons are non-elemental, despite their attack animations. Zack will still level up if the proper numbers match. There is a 12.5% base chance of activating the Summon Mode when a Modulating Phase is triggered as long as Zack has obtained at least one summon. Equipping Summon DMW Materia can boost the chance further.
Just entering Summon Mode doesn't yet guarantee that the Summon will be performed. The chances depend on the emotion gauge.
|Emotion Gauge||Summon Chance|
|Clear Mission 8-1-1||52||56||60||64||77||160px|
|Magical attack on all enemies that ignores Spirit.|
|Clear Mission 8-1-4||58||62||66||70||84|
|Magical attack on all enemies that ignores Spirit, will raise Emotion level by one if it is a level five attack.|
|Clear Mission 8-5-6||70||74||78||82||96||160px|
|Magical attack on all enemies that ignores Spirit, will raise Emotion level by one if it is a level five attack.|
|Clear Mission 8-1-6||N/A||160px|
|Inflicts Instant Death to all enemies. Attack is identical across all levels of power.|
|Chapter 9, Nibelheim Mystery #1.||48||52||56||60||78||160px|
|Magical attack on all enemies that ignores Spirit. Casts Raise on Zack.|
At any time during Modulating Phase while the center reel spins, "Chocobo Mode" will has a chance of activating as long as Zack has obtained at least one Creature in the reel. In Chocobo Mode the two outer portraits in the DMW change to one of the below characters while the center reel continues spinning. Similar to Modulating Phase, if three portraits match a summon will be called. Zack will still level up if the proper numbers match. In certain special battles (like against Sephiroth or the final boss) the Chocobo Mode will never activate, but otherwise its base activation rate is 9.4%, which can be boosted via DMW Materia.
Just entering Chocobo Mode doesn't yet guarantee that the Summon will be performed. The chances depend on the emotion gauge.
|Emotion Gauge||Summon Chance|
(Any losing combination)
|Start of the game||1||1||10||100||1000||160px|
|Deals damage to Zack and inflicts Stun on him. Does set damage for each level of power. Stun lasts between 1-6 seconds depending on level.|
|Treasure chest in Mission 8-4-1||48||54||58||64||72|
|Physical attack on all enemies that ignores Vitality.|
|Clear Mission 10-1-3||300||500||1000||1500||2000||160px|
|Eighteen hits on an enemy. Each hit does set damage according to power level.|
|Clear Mission 10-2-3||52||60||64||68||78||160px|
|Physical attack on one enemy that ignores Vitality.|
|Treasure chest in Mission 8-4-3||30 sec.||40 sec.||50 sec.||100 sec.||--||160px|
|Cures Zack of Poison, Silence, Stop, and Stun. Grants three sets of status buffs that last different amounts of time depending on attack level: Endure, Barrier and MBarrier, MP Cost 0 and AP Cost 0, and Physical Null and Magic Null. At level five all buffs except Physical Null and Magic Null last the rest of the battle.||20 sec.||30 sec.||60 sec.||120 sec.||--|
|5 sec.||8 sec.||10 sec.||15 sec.||30 sec.|
|Treasure chest in Mission 8-4-4||40 sec.||60 sec.||80 sec.||100 sec.||--||160px|
|Casts Regen on Zack, duration depends on attack level. Levels up all equipped Materia by an amount equal to the attack level|
|Encounter Magic Pot in certain Missions and appease it.||N/A||160px|
|Zack gains a random rare item depending on the level of the attack.*|
*Lvl 1:Curaga, Drain, Graviga, Libra
Lvl 2: Iron Bangle, Titanium Bangle, Carbon Bangle, Platinum Bangle
Lvl 3: Kaiser Knuckles, Shinra Beta+, Royal Crown, Crystal Orb
Lvl 4: Elixir x5, Elixir x10, Phoenix Down x1, Phoenix Down x3
Lvl 5: Ribbon, Gold Rolling Pin x1, Gold Rolling Pin x3, Gold Rolling Pin x5
Genesis Mode is a special mode where Genesis's portrait is added to the reel. This is the final check the game makes; If the game fails to enter both Summon Mode and Chocobo Mode, there is a chance Genesis Mode will activate. The base chance is 12.5%, but it can be boosted further with DMW Materia. Genesis Mode still doesn't mean Apocalypse will activate, just as Summon and Chocobo Modes do not guarantee a move will trigger. After Genesis Mode has been activated once, Genesis's portrait stays in the reel until it is reset, such as during a storyline event or by drinking the Potion from the Shinra employee in the Shinra Building lobby.
|Defeat Genesis in Chapter 6||66||76||86||96||120|
|Magical attack on all enemies.|
The Boost Modifier
The boost modifier is displayed in the menu under the specific Limit Break. Under normal conditions all Limit Breaks have equal chance of activating, but it is possible to boost the chances for a certain Limit with DMW Materia. If, for example, a Limit has a modifier of [x5] it is five times more likely to activate than a Limit with [x1] modifier. The modifiers don't boost the chance of getting a Limit Break per se (they don't increase the chance of Modulating Phase appearing, for example), therefore it is futile to boost all the modifiers at once. Summon and Chocobo Mode DMW Materia not only boost their respective move, but also increase the chance of activating their mode during a Modulating Phase.
Apart from the DMW Materia, Zack gets a boost modifier to certain Limit Breaks during specific storyline events.
|Entering Fort Tamblin.|
|Leaving Fort Tamblin.|
|Sephiroth flashback at Sector 5 Reactor.|
|Entering the highway at Street 0.|
|Before fighting Bahamut Fury.|
|Meeting Tseng and Cloud at Modeoheim bathhouse.|
|Selling flowers with Aerith.|
|After getting a phone call from Aerith in Nibelheim.|
|Before fighting Sephiroth.|
|After escaping Shinra Mansion.|
|Meeting Cissnei after escaping Nibelheim.|
|Seeing Angeal in Gongaga Village.|
During Normal Modulating Phase (not during Summon or Chocobo Mode), the player has a chance of witnessing certain flashback and "behind the scenes" events that add percentage to the character portraits in the DMW menu, and once the player has 100% on every portrait, they receive Genji Armor. Summon and Chocobo portraits only need for their move to be used once during battle to get 100%, but the character portraits start at 10% and the player must fill the rest of the 90% by viewing the random flashback scenes during Modulating Phase. Every character besides Genesis has six scenes: four 10% scenes and two 25% scenes. The scenes become available as the player progresses through the game, and some scenes are only unlocked near the game's end.
Whenever the player witnesses a scene that grants 25% toward DMW completion, they are guaranteed to perform the Limit Break at the end of Modulating Phase. The same happens if the player gets five "poster cards," although the image flashbacks do not count toward DMW completion and aren't character specific. The 25% flashback scenes also raise the Emotion Gauge by one.
Below are the chances of triggering the random scenes during a Normal Modulating Phase.
|Emotion Gauge||10% scene||25% scene|
Below are the chances of triggering the random scenes during Genesis Mode. Genesis has only two scenes, 45% each.
|Emotion Gauge||45% scene|
Zack's Final Stand
During the scripted battle, Zack's DMW reels break as voiced scenes between his friends play, whose portraits are replaced with a white silhouette. The reels break in the following order:
- Sephiroth, Cissnei, Tseng
- Angeal, Cloud
- Genesis's reel is never shown.
Zack will also not get any buffs from the DMW in that battle.
The director of Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, Hajime Tabata, has mentioned in an interview that once it was decided Zack would be the game's protagonist, the nature of his story barred the development team from utilizing the traditional party system as in Final Fantasy VII. In order to make controlling of a single character into an exciting game, the base structure of the Final Fantasy VII battle system was used with strong action elements added to it.
The element of luck was designed into the Digital Mind Wave to prevent battles from becoming repetitive. Both Yoshinori Kitase and Tetsuya Nomura are enthusiastic about pachinko, a type of Japanese slots machine, and were discussing if there was any element of it that could put into the game.
Sephiroth is able to use Octaslash as an HP attack, executing a sequence of five swift sword slashes while charging forward.
One of Zack's cards can use both Rush Assault and Meteor Shots. For the discard of a Zack card and two Fire CP, Rush Assault deals 8000 damage to a Forward of the player's choice. Meteor Shots requires the discard of a Zack card, two Fire CP, and Dulling Zack, and deals 4000 damage to all the opponent's Forwards.
The original appearance of Meteo Shots, Zack executes it identically to Cloud's Meteorain, leaping up and sending meteors at the opponent.
Kingdom Hearts series
Zack is able to use an attack similar to Meteor Shots when fought in Birth By Sleep, sending a barrage of large meteors at the player.