Former 1st Class SOLDIER. After defecting from Shinra, Cloud began work as a mercenary for hire in Midgar. With his trusty broadsword in hand, he always gets the job done.

Description

Cloud Strife is the main protagonist in Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VII Remake, and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. He 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.

An arrogant and proud swordsman at first, Cloud introduces himself to Avalanche 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 more 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 planet and people he fights to protect. He fights to protect the planet against his nemesis, Sephiroth.

Cloud Strife wields large broadswords in battle, including the iconic Buster Sword, and has access to the most powerful weapons in the game. His Limit abilities involve his sword, and are the strongest, but take the longest to learn. Cloud also has the best all-around stats.

Profile

Appearance

Original artwork by Tetsuya Nomura.

Cloud is a handsome young 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 assumed to be one.

CG render of Cloud on Hardy-Datona.

His weapon is the Buster Sword, a massive sword over five 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. However, in the key art showing him mounted on the Hardy Daytona for Final Fantasy VII, his weapon is the Hardedge, which can be stolen from SOLDIER:3rd in Shinra Headquarters, rather than 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. Unlike the default uniform, his is customized to exclude the right shoulder pauldron, likely to make it easier to draw his sword from behind him, while his left pauldron remains, albeit with protruding screws and bolts due to makeshift repairs. He also wears a junky gear-like armlet on his left forearm.

He has a silver earring in his left ear.

When in his mid-teens, Cloud had a ponytail and wore a white loose t-shirt with a blue trim, dark blue jean shorts and shoes. When crossdressing Cloud wears a purple dress and a braided blonde wig in the original, or a black gothic style dress with plaid hair extensions in the remake.

Cloud working as a Shinra guard in Crisis Core.

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 intact and the SOLDIER logo as it is in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-.

In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Cloud's clothing was designed 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 indigo 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. This ensemble has become known as the Cloudy Wolf attire.

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. His most distinctive trait 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.

Personality

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow. (Skip section)

Cloud and Aerith, artwork by Yoshitaka Amano.

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, Cloud unknowingly holds a fake persona of a cocky and headstrong SOLDIER 1st Class. Cloud simultaneously denies his true self, yet longs for an identity. Blocking the memories of the events of the Nibelheim Incident, he suffers a mental breakdown when he learns the truth. Cloud even goes so far as to accept the identity of a Sephiroth-clone and begs for Professor Hojo to number him.

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 Remake, Cloud shows more of his softer side even when he still holds onto his SOLDIER persona. Despite at first only helping Avalanche for the right price, he comes to care for his new friends despite remaining distant. Tifa calls him kind under the surface, and Biggs says Cloud has a lot in common with the children he used to care for in a school in the slums. Cloud is awkward when dealing with Tifa and Aerith's feelings for him, and depending on affection mechanics may comfort Tifa over the death of their friends, or become saddened when Aerith tells him not to fall in love with her. Cloud can be ruthless, as he shows no hesitation in attempting to permanently silence Johnny for potentially revealing information on Avalanche, with Tifa fearful of how he's changed. Unlike in the original continuity where Cloud is dismissive of Avalanche's desire to destroy Shinra, Cloud outright holds the company he once served in contempt, especially Hojo for his immorality. When people assume he is in SOLDIER due to his mako eyes, he is quick to affirm that he is no longer affiliated with Shinra. He shows greater signs of psychological trauma than in the original continuity, and reacts strongly to Sephiroth's presence with both fear and rage.

In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and many related appearances, Cloud is a somber and brooding 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 himself 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. After being betrayed by his idol, he does not hesitate to seek revenge.

In Last Order -Final Fantasy VII-, Cloud is closer to his younger persona seen in flashbacks in Final Fantasy VII. He is openly affectionate with Tifa and blames Sephiroth for murdering his mother, something that was absent in the original game.

Cloud's Advent Children render.

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. Cloud is also put in humorous situations, like marching at the Junon parade. He has a dry, ironic wit as shown in Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII-.

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. He tells Yuffie that it doesn't affect him while flying on the Highwind, so long as he can remain "nervous." During an attack of nausea while attempting to take the Shinra submarine in Junon Underwater Reactor, he claims he isn't affected if he's driving, a possible inspiration for his favored mode of transport later.

Abilities

Despite being a mere infantryman considered not fit enough to join SOLDIER, Cloud already displayed impressive skills with a blade that impressed one of the Turks. After undergoing and surviving the same process used on SOLDIER members, and incorporating Zack's fighting abilities into his own, Cloud acts on the level of a SOLDIER Class First and easily handles SOLDIER members and Turks. In time, his skills became independent of his copying of Zack. He can simultaneously go up against the remnants of Sephiroth while suffering from Geostigma, and defeat Kadaj once he has recovered. A true testament to Cloud's skill and might is how he has repeatedly fought, and even at times defeated, Sephiroth himself, who is considered the best SOLDIER of all time and unbeatable.

Cloud can ride a motorcycle or a chocobo, snowboard, and is adept at scaling a snowy mountain, as noted by Zack in Crisis Core in discovering that they are both "country boys". When the situation calls for it, Cloud can adapt to do what is needed, even reviving a drowned girl with CPR or convincingly enough disguising himself as a woman.

Story

Before Final Fantasy VII

Early life

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's portrait in Before Crisis.

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 she took a misstep, he tried to catch her but they both fell. 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 militant

If only I were SOLDIER...

Cloud talking to Zack in Nibelheim

Cloud's dreams are cut short as despite his bravado, he never makes it into SOLDIER and instead becomes a mere Shinra infantryman. Ashamed of his failure, he doesn't keep in contact with the people from his hometown. On June 28th, 0001, Cloud is among those ordered to protect Professor Rayleigh in Midgar from the insurgency organization Avalanche, as depicted in Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII-. 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. Cloud did not expect to return to Nibelheim so soon and feeling embarrassed of his failure to join SOLDIER, he hides his identity from the townspeople, and especially Tifa, by wearing his helmet prominently, although he does visit his mother who asks about his new life with Shinra.

Cloud defeats Sephiroth.

When the expedition reaches the reactor Sephiroth discovers Professor Hojo's experiments with humans mutated into monsters dubbed 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 depressed over his lack of strength. Sephiroth locks himself in the Shinra Manor's basement for several sleepless days, 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 before attending to Tifa. When a wounded Sephiroth emerges from the reactor core, Cloud attacks him intent on avenging the deaths of his mother and all the townspeople Sephiroth had killed. Though impaled on Sephiroth's Masamune, Cloud summons the strength to overpower him with sheer willpower. Using the katana as a lever, Cloud lifts Sephiroth up and hurls him into the mako pit below before collapsing.

Cloud and Zack, as well as other survivors in the town (with the exception of Tifa who was rescued by Zangan before Shinra arrived), 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. Cloud succumbs and develops a severe case of 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.

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 participate 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 catatonic 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.

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. He 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.

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 cell she belongs to so she can secretly keep an eye on his condition.

Original continuity

Mercenary days and Avalanche

Cloud helps Avalanche attack the Mako Reactor 1 on December 9th, though he claims to not care about the planet and to only be working for money. He attempts to walk out after returning to the Avalanche hideout in Tifa's Seventh 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 chooses to ignore and suppress it.

During the mission to blow up the Mako Reactor 5, Cloud is separated from the others when he falls into the Sector 5 Church where he meets Aerith 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 is unconscious on the church flowerbed, and again when he spends the night at Aerith's mother Elmyra'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 Aerith, after disguising Cloud as a woman, attempt to rescue her, and meet the Don who admits Shinra has discovered Avalanche's base of operations.

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 Aerith is captured while taking Barret's daughter, Marlene Wallace, to safety.

Cloud leads an attack on Shinra Building to rescue Aerith, 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. Cloud, Aerith, Barret, Tifa, and Red XIII follow a blood trail to the top floor and find President Shinra killed by Sephiroth. 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 Sephiroth

Cloud portrait by Tetsuya Nomura.

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.

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 Aerith, but his friends—including a new version of Cait Sith—knock him out. While unconscious, Aerith appears to Cloud in a dream, claiming only she can stop Sephiroth. When Cloud regains consciousness Barret and Tifa tell him Aerith has left, and Cloud resolves to follow her.

Cloud and company pursue Aerith through the Sleeping Forest to the Forgotten City 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 Aerith, impaling her with his Masamune. The party mourns Aerith's passing as Cloud rests her body in the lake. Cloud despairs how Sephiroth has the power to control his actions, unable to anticipate when he may become controlled again, but his allies persuade him to continue despite this.

Meteorfall

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 realizes his drive to hunt for Sephiroth was fueled by the Jenova cells in his body summoning him to the "reunion". He comes to believe he was created by Hojo and that 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 of Tifa 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. Tifa and Cloud fall into the lifestream and into Cloud's Subconscious where Tifa meets the "true Cloud". Amid the course of trying to ascertain Cloud's true memories, they became aware of the thoughts and feelings each was holding.[7]

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 Aerith 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 Aerith. 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 Aerith commands the lifestream to push Meteor back so Holy may destroy it and save the planet.

Post-crisis

Cloud in On the Way to a Smile -Episode: Denzel- Final Fantasy VII.

In On the Way to a Smile "Episode: 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 arise from being unable to "reclaim lost lives", referring to his perceived guilt in the deaths of Aerith and Zack. Once he contracts Geostigma, he leaves, secretly moving out into the Sector 5 Church.[8]

In the "Lifestream" chapters, 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 The Kids Are Alright: A Turks Side Story, 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 crisis

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

Cloud to Tifa

Cloud in Advent Children.

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 flowerbed, 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 has been 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 City 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 refuses 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.

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.

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.

Reminiscence

In a DVD extra, Cloud is making deliveries while taking calls from his friends. One call is from Vincent 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 conflict

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 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.

Remake continuity

Cloud is a hired mercenary to a cell of the eco-terrorist group Avalanche operating out of the Midgar slums. He joins Barret, Biggs, Wedge and Jessie in blowing up Mako Reactor 1, but unknown to them Shinra is following their every move via security cameras and Jessie's explosive fails to properly detonate; Shinra detonates the mako reactor, destroying a large part of the surrounding area as well. Avalanche are surprised at the extent of destruction "their" bomb caused, and scatter to the streets, agreeing to meet in the train going back to the slums.

While amid the panicked crowds, Cloud finds himself face to face with Sephiroth, a rogue First Class SOLDIER Cloud claims to have killed in the past. Sephiroth says that it was indeed the crowning moment of their time together, and traps Cloud in an illusion where everything around him is burning. Cloud remembers how her mother died during the blaze of his hometown that Sephiroth had caused.

Aerith offers Cloud a flower.

After getting out of the illusion, Cloud runs into a woman acting oddly who offers him a flower. When she begins to behave oddly again and grabs his hand, Cloud can see that she is being harassed by mysterious flying cloaks with nothing inside, which are invisible to everyone else, including the Shinra Public Security forces that are alerted by Cloud's drawn weapon. The woman runs away while Cloud forces his way through the soldiers to a railway bridge from where he jumps onto the train that passes below, reuniting with the others.

They make their way back to the Sector 7 slums and to Tifa's bar, Seventh Heaven. Tifa is Cloud's childhood friend who had convinced Barret to hire Cloud for Avalanche operations when he had shown up in Midgar as a mercenary for hire. However, Barret excludes Cloud from Avalanche talks and decides to not hire him for the next mission, deeming he is not really part of their group. Tifa convinces Cloud to stick around and make a name for himself as a mercenary by helping out the locals. She gets him an apartment next to hers, but his neighbor turns out to be an ill man wearing a dark cloak whom Cloud sees as Sephiroth come back to taunt him. Tifa is alarmed when Cloud pulls out his sword on the man, and Cloud realizes he was hallucinating again.

When helping out the locals Tifa and Cloud spot a local man called Johnny being taken away by Shinra Public Security forces on suspicion of working with Avalanche. Though Johnny is unaffiliated, Tifa worries he might still incriminate them, and they defeat the soldiers. Tifa stops Cloud from silencing Johnny for good, and he instead tells him to get out of Midgar. After Johnny runs off, frantic, Tifa comments that Cloud's callousness scares her, but he says that is how it is for an Ex-SOLDIER.

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Avalanche member Jessie hires Cloud to help her procure a new blasting agent from a Shinra warehouse, and Cloud ends up in a motorcycle race against a SOLDIER member called Roche. Cloud helps Jessie steal her dad's ID card so they can gain access to the warehouse, and helps create a diversion to buy her time to go get the blasting agent. While topside, he has a chance to glimpse at the night sky and recalls the time he had met the then 13-year-old Tifa at the water tower of their old hometown and he had promised to come save her if she was ever in trouble after he'd make it into SOLDIER. Having seen how Tifa is conflicted over with what Avalanche is doing even if she hates Shinra, he decides to try help her.

Cloud parachutes back down to the slums with Wedge while Jessie and Biggs ride on another parachute, and Wedge shows him around the slums and tells him about his cats. Cloud returns to Jessie's for payment for a job well done and she gives him materia and a hug, asking him to go out with her, but Cloud is reluctant to promise her anything. Tifa visits him at night and wants to hear about what Cloud was doing during the time he was away from their home town, but Cloud is reluctant to share anything and doesn't know where to start, but says they can go out later and talk about the old days.

The next morning the mysterious invisible ghosts attack the slums and slow Cloud and Tifa down when they are trying to reach the bar. The ghosts scatter after injuring Jessie, and Barret hires Cloud for the next bombing mission on the spot. When Barret, Tifa and Cloud head topside their IDs fail a security check and they are forced to jump out of the moving train and walk the rest of the way. During the mission to blow up Mako Reactor 5, Cloud, Barret and Tifa learn that Shinra is aware of their operations and is allowing their acts of terrorism to build Avalanche as a public threat so the populace would turn to Shinra for protection. After speaking to both Heidegger (head of Shinra's military) and President Shinra himself (CEO), Cloud falls off the crumbling walkway into the Midgar slums below and crashes through the roof of Aerith's church where he has a dream with a double of himself and Sephiroth.

Clashing with Reno.

Aerith is the woman selling flowers he had met earlier, and she hires him to escort her home without Cloud even explaining that he is a mercenary. Reno of the Turks, Shinra's intelligence operations division, comes to the church to kidnap Aerith, but the "ghosts" stop Cloud from killing him and Cloud escapes with Aerith through the roof while the ghosts protect them. Cloud takes Aerith to her home and helps her around the town by doing odd jobs for the locals and saving her from Rude, another Turk who is after Aerith. During their time at the slums, they meet another delirious man in a dark cloak whom Cloud momentarily hallucinates as Sephiroth.

Aerith promises to take Cloud to Sector 7 the next day, but when Aerith is away in another room, her mother tells Cloud that as an Ex-SOLDIER he has traded his chance for a normal life for power and can't stay around Aerith, and thus Cloud sneaks out at night. Aerith catches up with him anyway and takes him to the Sector 6 park where they take a break. She tells Cloud that he reminds her of her first love, but Cloud's vision goes blurry and his ears begin to ring as she says his name.

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They witness Tifa being taken away in a chocobo cart to Don Corneo's "bridal audition." Knowing how dangerous this is, Aerith convinces Cloud that they must go and save her. The don only accepts entrants who have been endorsed by influential slum dwellers who run Wall Market, and to get Aerith endorsement from Madam M they win the Corneo Cup tournament at the local battle arena. They get endorsement for Cloud from Andrea Rhodea from Honeybee Inn who gives Cloud a makeover. Aerith and Cloud get into Corneo's mansion though Corneo's lackey, Leslie Kyle, sees through Cloud's disguise.

Cloud learns from Tifa that Corneo has sent spies to look for Barret on Shinra's behalf, and they want to know why. Don Corneo chooses Cloud for his "bride," but Aerith and Tifa rush the room and bring their weapons and clothes. They learn that Shinra is planning on abandoning Midgar anyway, and thus will drop the Sector 7 plate onto the slums to crush Barret's group and then blame it on Avalanche and Wutai, a rival nation to Shinra.

Cloud, Tifa, and Barret escaping the destruction of Sector 7.

Don Corneo drops Cloud, Tifa and Aerith into the sewer system through a trap door and they race their way back to the slums where they are slowed down by the "ghosts" until Wedge falls off the pillar that is under attack by Shinra with Avalanche and other locals defending it. Wedge's grappling gun softens his landing and Tifa and Aerith stay behind to help him while Cloud races up the steps to help Barret and the others. He runs into Biggs who looks like he is on the verge of death. After Tifa joins him, they find a dying Jessie who is glad to have seen Cloud and Tifa for one last time. Despite their efforts the Turks separate the pillar from the plate above and it comes crashing down, with Cloud, Tifa and Barret riding a ropeway to safety after a video message from the Turks where they learn Aerith has been kidnapped.

They visit Aerith's mother and find Aerith had brought Barret's daughter Marlene there before being taken away by the Turks. Elmyra Gainsborough tells them how Aerith is not her biological daughter, as Aerith is an "Ancient" escaped a Shinra lab as a child. Cloud wants to go to the Shinra Building to rescue her, but Elmyra opposes, hoping Shinra will release her if Aerith agrees to cooperate with the company.

Barret, Tifa and Cloud return to the ruins of Sector 7 where they find a hidden Shinra testing site with people turned into monsters after mako exposure. This reminds Cloud of his past, but the mysterious invisible beings stop them from going in any further and eject the party. They find Wedge has survived and take him to Aerith's house. Cloud explains about what they saw in the ruins, and how Shinra is more ruthless than the public image they project, and will never release Aerith. Elmyra needs some more time to think things over, and that night Cloud wakes up to footsteps and meets either Aerith, Tifa or Barret outside in Aerith's flower garden.

Cloud comforts Tifa.

If he meets Aerith, he wonders if he is dreaming, and she tells him about the importance of living in the moment as everybody will eventually die. She is glad Cloud cares for her enough to want to come save her, but warns him to not fall in love. She disappears as she touches his face and Cloud wakes up to find he really was dreaming. If Cloud meets Tifa in the garden she cries against his shoulder while he holds her over how Shinra has again taken everything from them. If Cloud meets Barret he tells him about the Avalanche members he never got to introduce to Cloud.

The next day Cloud, Tifa and Barret head out to save Aerith and seek Corneo for a way topside as the trains have stopped running. They only find Leslie, who promises to provide them the means if they help him find Corneo first, and afterward gives them super-powered grappling guns which the trio uses to propel themselves across the devastation of the Sector 7 ruins. They make their way into the Shinra Building through the parking garage and pretend to be tourists to take part in a tour, but at the VR theater Cloud sees another of those cloaked men while their surroundings change to that of a vision of a meteorite destroying Midgar. Some Public Security Division soldiers recognize Cloud as their former friend, but he hurries away, feeling confused.

They rescue Aerith from Hojo's lab, and meet Red XIII, a talking canine being who was also being kept in captivity by Hojo. When Hojo says Cloud is mistaken about being an Ex-SOLDIER, the professor is carried away by the ghosts. Proximity to Jenova also kept there has a severe reaction with Cloud who passes out. He is taken to recuperate in Aerith's old room in Hojo's lab where she tells them about Ancients and how Shinra wants her to lead the company to the "promised land" where they plan to build Neo Midgar, but Aerith says she will not be able to find it.

Clashing with Sephiroth in the Shinra Building.

They get a video message from Wedge who has teamed up with Avalanche HQ and Mayor Domino to send them a helicopter. On their way to the roof they pass by Jenova's tank, but find a cloaked man there whom everyone sees as Sephiroth. "Sephiroth" sends them plummeting down to the recesses of Hojo's lab where they regroup and find their way back up while Hojo follows their progress through his monitors. After seeing that Jenova is missing from its tank, they witness President Shinra killed by Sephiroth who transforms into the Jenova Dreamweaver, whom they defeat. Afterward, Cloud sees Sephiroth outside carrying Jenova's body, but it is just another clone who falls off the building with Jenova. Avalanche's helicopter is downed by the Turks when Rufus Shinra, the late president's son, arrives to take the reins of the company. Cloud stays behind to duel Rufus as the others head down, and after Cloud bests Rufus and is helped by Tifa, they steal Shinra vehicles from the downstairs showroom and ride out of the building along the Midgar Expressway.

At the end of the Midgar Expressway, they find Sephiroth waiting for them. Sephiroth cuts a path to "another future" and asks Cloud to follow. Aerith explains that Sephiroth is the true threat to the planet, even greater than Shinra, and must be stopped. She hesitates over what path they should follow, as the mysterious beings that have been intermittently tormenting and helping them are Whispers, arbiters of fate that enforce a destiny the planet itself wants to see come to pass. They pass through the passageway anyway, and end up fighting a colossal Whisper that seems to be controlling the others, and after they defeat it, Sephiroth himself. Cloud does not back down from the challenge despite the overwhelming odds, and they battle through a surreal terrain of flying debris. He is overpowered but receives aid from his friends, and together they dispel the attack he was about to use to defeat them.

When Cloud goes after Sephiroth, he is pulled into a vision of what Sephiroth calls the edge of creation. Sephiroth says that the world will became a part of it and offers Cloud an alliance so they can defy destiny together, but Cloud refuses and fights and loses as he is disarmed of his sword. Sephiroth disappears after telling Cloud he has seven seconds before the end, and that what he will do with the time is up to him.

Zack brings a delirious Cloud to Midgar.

The Whispers' defeat alters the timeline. Zack survived his "last stand" and is last seen taking Cloud to Midgar, but his present fate and how much Cloud remembers of him remain unknown.

Spoilers end here.

Gameplay

Final Fantasy VII

Cloud's battle render in Final Fantasy VII.

Cloud is the main playable party member, who serves as the party leader throughout the majority of the game. He wields large broadswords in battle, with the most powerful Limit Breaks. Cloud has the most balanced stats and is the most powerful character, making him effective both at physical damage and at casting Magic. His ultimate weapon is the Ultima Weapon, which deals more damage based on how full his HP is. 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.

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 the party. There is also a hidden gameplay attribute that determines which party member will date him in Gold Saucer.

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. Cloud leveling up to LV7 in the first battle is an allusion to the game's title. This allusion was kept for Final Fantasy VII Remake as well.

Final Fantasy VII Remake

Punisher Mode.

Cloud is once again the main playable character and leads the party in all but a few quests. His broadswords give him strong area-of-effect melee damage, and he can switch between two fighting styles using Triangle. Operator Mode balances attack and defense and gives him a good movement speed, while Punisher Mode is geared towards offense, greatly reduces his movement speed, but gives him the ability to counterattack. Cloud's learned abilities are geared towards dealing raw damage to a target, able to burst them down.

Cloud using Triple Slash.

Cloud's main strength is his versatility, having very balanced attributes. He has the highest Strength Strength attribute, the second-highest Magic Magic attribute and MP pool, the second-highest HP, and the rest of his attributes are above average. This allows him to fulfill any role that the party needs depending on his materia setup and equipped weapons.

As the most frequent party leader, Cloud partakes in most of the minigames, and all of the Odd Job sidequests. He leads the party throughout most of the story, with a few exceptions in which another character takes over. Player choices can allow her to wear one of three dresses in Chapter 9, "The Town That Never Sleeps".

Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII-

BCCloudSprite1.png

Cloud is fought as a boss in the Training Mode.

Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-

Cloud's DMW icons.

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.

Musical themes

"Main Theme of Final Fantasy VII"
Music

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 appearances

Cloud in Dissidia Final Fantasy NT.

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

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

Non-Final Fantasy guest appearances

Cloud has the most player-controlled appearances of any character in the Final Fantasy series, and the second-most appearances altogether, behind Gilgamesh.

Artwork of Cloud in Kingdom Hearts.

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

Behind the scenes

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 VII

Original design sketch of Cloud by Tetsuya Nomura.

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.

Production sketch of Cloud (top), and victory pose concept at (bottom).

In early drafts Cloud was meant to be more directly controlled by Sephiroth. As Sephiroth fell to his death in the Nibelheim 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.[10]

Cloud in the 1996 Final Fantasy VII demo.

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.[11]

Cloud was the first person created for the game by Tetsuya Nomura.[10] 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.[12] 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[12], famous Japanese warriors whose duel became legendary and the swordsmen have appeared in many forms in pop culture in Japan.

Early build.

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 build, 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 Children

Concept art with the original six swords.

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.[13] 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.[14]

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.

Final Fantasy VII Remake

Cloud appeared in the E3 2015 reveal trailer, but his design was later changed to be closer to the original design, and is said to look more natural. Director and character designer Tetsuya Nomura and development leader Naoki Hamaguchi have mentioned that while Cloud may look "this way," he was a dorky character in the original game. Cloud is expected to display more of his youthful side rather than the always-serious one commonly seen outside of the original game.[15]

Height

Due to poor conversions from centimeters to feet in early English materials, Cloud's height has been listed as 5'7" in various manuals and websites[16]. His height is actually 5.7ft, or 5ft8in. The Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII- Signature Series Guide guide featured the correction conversion.[5]

Voice

Cloud's English voice actor in all of his appearances before Final Fantasy VII Remake is Steve Burton. Cody Christian voices Cloud in the remake.[17]

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 voice actor with Kurasame Susaya from Final Fantasy Type-0.

Allusions in media

Zidane makes a reference to Cloud.

Cloud Strife was included as a costume in LittleBigPlanet 2, along with Sephiroth, Vincent, Aerith, and Tifa. He has been alluded to in many other media. He was also alluded to including the TV show Robot Chicken, and the Cartoon Network show Steven Universe. He has also appeared in notable fanmade web series, including ScrewAttack's DEATH BATTLE series against Link from The Legend of Zelda, and in Dead Fantasy as a guest role.

Cloud Strife is the central topic of two Square Enix promotional books, CLOUD Vol 1 and CLOUD message.

Gallery

Etymology

In meteorology, a cloud is an aerosol comprising a visible mass of minute liquid droplets, frozen crystals, or particles suspended in the atmosphere above the surface of a planetary body.

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 led 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.

External links

Notes

  1. Also listed as August 19, 1986[4]

References

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