Unlike the last time I got caught in a minigame rut, this one’s not that bad. It helps that the first time you get access to a snowboarding course, it’s on the way to the next encounter with Sephiroth (I feel like by this point in the game everything happens just sort of in between encounters with Sephiroth; perhaps that should have been the game’s subtitle: Final Fantasy VII: Encounters with Sephiroth). You only get one chance to run the course before it dumps you in a dungeon, which you can leave if you really want to, but it takes about ten minutes to get out of the dungeon and trek back to the village (Icicle Inn–I think the translators were going for a resort town feeling, but it always struck me as a really weird village name) where you can access the start of the course.
Ten minute resets on a three minute minigame don’t allow for a good return on investment.
Alas, this means that I won’t get to obsess over snowboarding for many hours to come.
That’s okay though, because once we get to Icicle Inn and gather up the snowboard, we also get some fun background information about that girl who we just watched die like less than an hour earlier as well as that other crazy alien parasite woman who drove Sephiroth insane. See, there’s some video footage in an abandoned house in the village that used to belong to a researcher for Shinra named Professor Gast (I’m pretty sure Professor isn’t his first name, but you can never tell for sure). Gast was researching the Cetra with the help of Ifalna, Aerith’s birth mother (Gast was apparently her father as well). From these videos we learn that Jenova (whom Ifalna refers to as ‘he’ throughout, because, y’know, shapeshifting gender-neutral alien parasite) was not a Cetra, but some kind of alien virus that fell from the sky and started infecting the Cetra a la The Thing.
This is really freaky stuff to learn, and it helps explain some of the things that have been going on with the black cloaked figures we’ve encountered occasionally ever since we arrived in Nibelheim. The ‘Reunion’ they’ve been babbling about relates to the fact that Jenova, as an alien parasite, is capable of reassembling all the parts of itself if they get separated. These black cloaked figures have been trying mightily to catch up with Sephiroth because they’ve been injected with Jenova cells (as mentioned in the lab notes back in the Shinra Mansion basement in Nibelheim).
Besides the important stuff about Jenova, we also learn from the videos that Shinra killed Gast very shortly after Aerith was born and took her and Ifalna into custody so they could conduct further research on the Cetra.
Anyway, that’s about all that’s of note in Icicle Inn (besides the wicked awesome snowboard), so it’s time to move on to the Great Glacier (it’s not that interesting besides being the obligatory ice dungeon) and the Northern Crater beyond it ( slightly more interesting, but mostly because we’ll catch up to Sephiroth again there). We’ll drop back in to see what our heroes are doing when we get there.