- “The knowledge and wisdom of the Ancients is held in the materia. Anyone with this knowledge can freely use the powers of the Land and the Planet. That knowledge interacts between ourselves and the planet calling up magic... or so they say.”
Materia (マテリア, Materia?) are items in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII that allow a character to cast spells, summon, and use new command abilities. They can also be used for other various reasons. It forms the basis of the skill and ability system for Final Fantasy VII, and also plays a prominent role in character skills in other games.
Materia is crystallized Mako. Metaphysically, Materia calls upon the wisdom of the Lifestream in order to manipulate nature itself. This manifests as the phenomenon of magic for most Materia, although other Materia pieces enhance the user's abilities. Unless one is descended from the Cetra, Materia is the only way normal humans can use magic. When explaining how Materia is created to Zack and Tifa on Mt. Nibel, Sephiroth mentions that he and Professor Hojo debated the nature of Materia. Hojo objected to the term "Magic" being applied to powers from Materia, but could offer no better explanation.
In Case of Yuffie it is explained that to use a Materia's power, a shock triggered by the user's mind waves is required. As a result the user's mind is weakened and frequent use of Materia without rest taxes their stamina.
Materia is able to occur naturally at "Mako Springs", places where the Lifestream leaks through the surface of the planet of Gaia and condenses, such as on Mt. Nibel. However, this is a rare occurrence, taking centuries for the Mako to crystallize into Materia, and in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Shinra scientists mention that most Materia in use is artificially produced. It is never stated if natural Materia has any appreciable difference in usage and power from artificial Materia, but the White Materia, Black Materia, and the four Materia pieces found in the Materia Caves are much stronger than other Materia pieces, so natural Materia appears to be stronger than artificial Materia.
Though the process varies from game to game, Materia can level up, increasing its powers further. In Final Fantasy VII Materia learns new abilities as it levels up and when mastered spawns a copy of itself. In all other games in the Compilation, Materia pieces are linked only to a single ability that becomes more potent as the Materia gains power: in Crisis Core Materia gives higher stat boosts as it levels up, while in Before Crisis Materia has a higher chance of affecting the user's weapon and/or armor as it increases in level. Exclusive to Crisis Core, different Materia shards can be combined via Materia Fusion, resulting in a stronger Materia often manifesting as a literal combination of the two individual Materia, such as Fire and Power Attack fusing to create Fire Blade.
The size of Materia seems to be ambiguous throughout the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. In the original Final Fantasy VII and in Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII-, most Materia, excluding the White, Black, and Huge Materia, are about the size of a marble. However, in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and Crisis Core, Materia appear to be just smaller than a tennis ball, about the size of the White Materia in the original game. As Materia is referred to in Final Fantasy VII as "growth" when leveling up, Materia may increase in size to denote its level of power, explaining the ambiguities here.
Materia can be used when slotted into a weapon or a piece of armor. Once slotted into an equipment piece the wearer can call upon the Materia's powers. Using Materia has both pros and cons. Depending on the type and strength of the Materia equipped, some stats may be hindered or enhanced. As an example, the "Restore" Materia picked up in Sector 1 Reactor at the beginning of the game reduces maximum HP by two percent and Strength by one, but raises maximum MP by two percent and Magic by one.
Winning battles earns Ability Points, which are Experience Points for Materia. Just like characters, Materia levels up when it gains enough AP. Some Materia allow access to stronger commands when leveled up, others allow the user to use the granted command more times, others give a stat bonus that grows larger. When Materia reached its highest level, it is "mastered", and a second Materia with the same powers is born. Thus, with patience and enough leveling up, even one-of-a-kind Materia could be reproduced infinitely.
Materia can be slotted into a single slot or a connected slot. When slotted into a connected slot, the Materia can be joined with a Support Materia to varying effects, including adding elemental properties to the slotted equipment, allowing the Materia to target multiple targets, etc. Some equipment affects Materia growth through AP; some have Materia slots but cause the Materia linked to it to gain no AP at all, while others double or triple the amount of AP. Other weapons and equipment have no Materia slots at all.
If the player's Materia inventory is full when trying to pick up a Materia piece the game will notify the player and ask them to remove Materia first. The Kujata Materia is an exception, and will be lost forever if the player picks it up with full inventory.
Leveling up a Materia to its maximum level, and leveling up all Materia to their final levels, gain the player the Master Materia and Materia Overload achievements respectively, in the PC version re-release version of Final Fantasy VII.
Materia is used by Kadaj and his brothers to attack Cloud several times in the film after stealing a case of Materia from him. In this instance, rather than equipping Materia to slots in weapons and armor, Materia is inserted directly into the remnants' arms. In the Reunion Files, it is mentioned that, as Materia is a by-product of Mako and Mako is no longer used, Materia has also begun to fall out of use.
Vincent Valentine can equip Fire, Blizzard, or Thunder Materia to his weapon to enhance his attacks, via a small Materia slot attached to his gun by a chain. Fire-elemental bullets create a wave of fire when they hit their target, hitting multiple enemies. Ice-elemental bullets home in on a target. Lightning-elemental bullets can hit multiple enemies with a "chain lightning" type effect but is only short range.
Unlike Materia in most other games, these Materia do not follow the canon green color scheme of Magic Materia: Fire is red, Blizzard is blue, and Thunder is yellow. While Materia is seen in use, Cloud states that magic usage is best left sparingly as the Planet is still healing from events prior, and requires "all the strength it can get".
Materia is produced in Before Crisis in a unique fashion. Once they select the option to create Materia, the player takes a picture with their cellphone, and based on the predominant color in the picture, the game creates a Materia piece - a red picture would produce Fire Materia, for example. The player can only equip three Materia at a time - two in their armor, one in their weapon.
Materia levels up as it is used, to a maximum of Level 9. However, higher levels do not award stronger spells - Fire and Fira, for example, are different Materia from each other, and Fire will not become Fira as it levels up. The Materia's level affects the chance of the equipment piece taking on the Materia's elemental attributes. For example, when Fire Materia is slotted into the weapon, there is a chance that the player's attack will be Fire-elemental, the higher level the Fire Materia, the more likely it is the attack will be elemental.
Materia in Crisis Core works similarly to the way it is used in Final Fantasy VII. However, a new feature called Materia Fusion allows for two Materia to be fused together to create a stronger Materia with higher stats. As weapon and armor cannot be adjusted in Crisis Core, the number of Materia slots depend on Zack's SOLDIER rank. Zack begins the game with four Materia slots as a Second Class, then during the game is promoted to First Class and gains the ability to equip six Materia.
Unlike Final Fantasy VII, Materia levels up on the Digital Mind Wave rather than requiring AP. When the player gets two or three matching numbers between one and six during a Modulating Phase, the Materia in the corresponding slot levels up: if the player gets two matching numbers, the Materia grows one level, and if all three numbers match the Materia grows two levels. The Moogle summon will level up all Materia at once. The maximum level for a Materia is five.
Additionally, the differing levels of the same spells are no longer contained within the same Materia (e.g. Fire and Fira are located on two separate Materia). The player's inventory can hold 256 Materia at once, and if the number exceeds that limit, all future Materia are discarded.
Final Fantasy VII's battle system was used as the basis for the one in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- with action elements added to it; the Materia system was designed so that players could choose between "RPG-oriented enhancements" and "action-oriented enhancements," as well as to give the game balance.
There are five basic Materia types, distinguished by color.
|Red||Summon||Used to summon creatures to aid in battle.|
|Green||Magic||Used to cast spells, including Black, White, and status-inducing spells. Also affects Strength and Magic stats.|
|Yellow||Command||Allows the use of extra commands in battle like Throw and Steal.|
|Blue||Support||Can be linked to other Materia in order to enhance their effects.|
|Purple||Independent||Various functions, including increasing stats and auto-abilities such as Cover.|
Crisis Core uses different shades of each color to further classify Materia types. Only Summon Materia remain solely red.
|Dark Green||Offensive Magic||Used to cast offensive spells in battle.|
|Light Green||Curative Magic||Used to cast healing spells in battle.|
|Yellow-Green||Offensive Magic||Used to cast status spells in battle.|
|Dark Yellow||Offensive Attacks||Used to perform attack commands in battle.|
|Pale Yellow||Item Attacks||Used to perform item-related commands in battle.|
|Dark Purple||Stat-enhancing||Increases passive stats.|
|Light Purple||DMW||Increases changes of DMW attacks occurring.|
|Dark Blue||SP||Are attached to various SP-related abilities.|
|Light Blue||Status/Elemental||Are attached to elemental and status effects.|
|Red||Summon||Adds associated Summon to DMW reels.|
Other entries in the Compilation use separate classifications as described above, and in them color has little to do with a Materia's abilities. Kadaj uses a blue Materia in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children to use Enemy Skills and summon Bahamut SIN. Vincent's select Materia in Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII-, being Fire, Blizzard, and Thunder, are respectively, red, blue, and yellow, and Shelke has an orange Materia which she claims is a Shield Materia. While these Materia would be hued accordingly to their corresponding color, it is likely that the color system is more for gameplay and classification than it is for actual world canon.
- The Black Materia is used to call the Ultimate Destructive Magic, Meteor, which can destroy the Planet.
- The White Materia is used to call Holy, the ultimate protective magic which cleanses the Planet.
- Huge Materia are special Materia formed from compressing Mako in a Mako Reactor. Four of them are found in Final Fantasy VII.
- Master Materia are available for Command, Magic, and Summon Materia, and contains all or most of the commands for that particular type.
- In Dirge of Cerberus, there is the Protomateria, which is used by both Lucrecia Crescent and Shelke the Transparent to help Vincent control his Chaos form.
- In Before Crisis, there is a Summon Materia which summons Zirconiade, the ultimate summon. It was split into many pieces to prevent Zirconiade from being called.
- In Crisis Core, there is an enormous red Materia called "The Goddess Materia" which resides in the depths of the Banora Underground. Genesis ends up using this Materia in order to transform himself into Genesis Avatar.
- “These stones, developed by the ancient Saronians, are the result of experiments in storing knowledge within gems for later generations. They are said to enhance the abilities of the possessor.”
In Dissidia and Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, one of Sephiroth's HP attacks is named "Black Materia," which calls forth a meteor to strike his opponent. This is a direct reference to the Black Materia in Final Fantasy VII which is ultimately used to summon Meteor to destroy the world. As well, Cloud's crystal is a Materia piece, and resembles Aerith's White Materia. Furthermore, Materia is an item available through battlegen that is created by destroying stage elements in the Planet's Core.
In Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade, the Black Materia, Red Materia, Blue Materia, and Yellow Materia all appear as items.
Square Enix's cafe Artnia serves cocktails with a Materia theme. The cocktail contains gin and lime juice, and a frozen Materia orb: the blue one of blue curacao, and the red one of creme de cassis. For the 2014 Valentine's Day Square Enix introduced a set with five pieces of chocolate made to look like Materia orbs from Final Fantasy VII; one for each type of Materia.
In Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring, the great sword Ehrgeiz has a materia which radiates with an eerie glow. Its eternal power in the winner's hands can make the winner into anything, even a god.
In the fan-made series Dead Fantasy, Tifa Lockhart uses Materia magic in combat. Such spells used so far include Fire, Ice, Lightning, Time, Gravity, Ultima, Barrier, Poison, All, and Blind. As of the fifth episode, Tifa has lost most, if not all, of her Materia to Hitomi.
In Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, Zack Fair's D-Link ability icons are materia.
- Hironobu Sakaguchi suggested the Materia system, originally known as "spheres", a name Tetsuya Nomura proposed. Sakaguchi thought the name should be something to resonate easily even with elementary school kids, so the term Materia was chosen.
- There are several unused Materia shards dummied out of Final Fantasy VII. They are the MBarrier, Reflect, Reflect Wave, Underwater Breath, Law, and Booster Materia.
- The English script of the movie packaged with the "Limited Edition Collector's Set" of the movie reveals that Loz and Yazoo used "Comet, Flare, and Explosion" Materia in their suicide attack on Cloud near the end of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.