Crisis Core DMW guide: How to unlock all Characters & Summons to hit 100%

A huge driving factor in the combat and progression of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is the Digital Mind Wave, aka the DMW, a randomly-spinning slot machine of sorts that is constantly in the top left hand corner of the game screen during combat.

If you're new to Crisis Core, either on the PSP or in the remastered Crisis Core Reunion, you might be surprised at just how much the DMW controls. It's the underlying system that has the single largest effect on how the rest of the game plays - even controlling things like Zack's growing strength. In this comprehensive Crisis Core DMW guide, we'll explain this unique mechanic in full:

How the DMW Works in Crisis Core

The DMW is how Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII gives you access to Limit Breaks, Summons, and even leveling up - and we're here to help you to master it.

In real terms, the Digital Mind Wave system is almost entirely random - the developers of Crisis Core were inspired by their own love of Pachinko and Slot Machines. It's how you obtain a variety of things such as random in-battle bonuses, but also how you use Limit Breaks and Summons, and even when & how Zack levels up and how you can level up & master Materia.

Here's the important basics about the DMW:

  • The DMW will be constantly spinning in the upper-left corner of the game screen, constantly filling out with pictures & numbers.
  • The only times it won't be spinning is if you don't have enough SP (each spin costs 10 SP), or if you have a DMW-blocking item such as the Cursed Ring or Heike Soul equipped. 
  • There are two elements to the DMW - the pictures and the numbers. These actually carry separate rewards and are not connected to each other. 
  • A handful of picture characters like Genesis, Chocobo, and the Summons 'take over' the DMW reels at random.
  • Most DMW characters unlock as the game progresses, but some are tied to side missions. If you unlock all DMW characters, you'll get the Fury Ring, a powerful accessory.

Modulating Phase & Picture Matches

Get used to seeing a lot of this, the DMW wheel.

When it looks like the character pictures are going to match, you'll get the same character on the first and third reels, while the middle reel keeps spinning for a while longer. In the PSP version of Crisis Core, this is known as the 'Modulating Phase', and is announced with a voiceover - though this feature has been removed in the remastered Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion. 

When you're in Modulating Phase, you're simply waiting for the middle reel to stop. If it lands on the same character again, you will then unlock and be able to use that character's Limit Break or summon. In Crisis Core Reunion, you do this either by pressing Triangle or both analog sticks in, depending on what type of character it is. 

Additionally, while in Modulating Phase, two of the number-based spins are made more powerful:

  • If you get 777, Zack can Level Up - if he also has enough EXP to allow him to do so. We explain this more in our guide on leveling up.
  • If you get any two numbers the same, you will level up the Materia in the corresponding equipped slot. Any three numbers the same will level up a Materia twice! 

DMW Numbers & Effects

Even if the character pictures on the DMW don't match, the numbers keep spinning and eventually stop regardless. With or without a picture, the numbers are what provide the DMW's main bonuses - and these will actually trigger in some form or another very often. The majority of these effects occur if there is a picture match (modulating phase) or not.

Here's what temporary bonus you can expect when each number comes up. Dashes represent a blank spot where any any other number can feature

  • 777  /  Invincibility (or level up, if in modulating phase with criteria met)
  • 666  /  Critical Hits Guaranteed
  • 555 or 7-7  /  Physical Attack Immunity
  • 444 or 7--  /  No AP Consumed
  • 333 or -77  /  Magic Attack Immunity
  • 222 or -7-  /  No MP Consumed
  • 111  /  Invincibility (no level up chance)
  • --7 / Endurance Status

DMW Unlocks & Abilities for Characters & Summons

Unlocking every character in the Crisis Core DMW takes time, but is rewarding.

The pictures on the DMW start out blank, but as Zack meets the important players in his life, they'll be populated with people he meets - as well as summons he acquires throughout the course of the game.

Each DMW picture character has a different move and effect when triggered - but all of these Limit Break and summon attacks are non-elemental, even the summon ones that have an obvious elemental affiliation. That makes sense, given that the attacks can only be landed at random, when three matching pictures come up during the DMW's modulating phase - it'd be pretty harsh if you finally got to summon Ifrit and it was against an enemy immune to Fire. So everything is non-elemental.

DMW Chracters:

Here's each of the characters that feature on the DMW, and how to unlock them:

  • Blank Slate (3 Silhouettes of characters not yet unlocked)
    • Ability: Chain Slash Limit Break
    • Unlock: Available from the beginning
    • Effect: Physical Attack on one enemy, with Crit Chance
  • Sephiroth
    • Ability: Octaslash Limit Break
    • Unlock: Available from the beginning
    • Effect: 8x Physical Attacks to one enemy, can Crit
  • Angeal
    • Ability: Rush Assault Limit Break 
    • Unlock: Available from the beginning
    • Effect: 15x Physical Attacks to one enemy, ignoring the enemy VIT stat. Can Crit
  • Tseng
    • Ability: Air Strike Limit Break 
    • Unlock: Chapter 3, Story Progression
    • Effect: A large physical attack on all enemies. Can Crit
  • Cloud
    • Ability: Meteor Shots Limit Break 
    • Unlock: During Chapter 6, Story Progression
    • Effect: Magical Attack to all enemies, with Crit Chance
  • Aerith
    • Ability: Healing Wave Limit Break 
    • Unlock: Chapter 5, Story Progression
    • Effect: Heals HP, MP, and AP completely, can put them into Break status, and briefly makes Zack invincible
  • Cissnei
    • Ability: Lucky Stars Limit Break
    • Unlock: Chapter 4, Story Progression
    • Effect: Buff; makes all attacks Critical Hits for a limited time
  • Genesis
    • Ability: Apocalypse Limit Break 
    • Unlock: Chapter 6, Story Progression
    • Effect: Hugely powerful Magical attack to all enemies, but cannot Crit.

DMW Summons

In Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion, DMW Summons have new CG scenes - but you'll have to unlock them first.
  • Ifrit
    • Ability: Hellfire
    • Unlock: Mission 8-1-1, "Rematch with Ifrit"
    • Effect: Magic attack on all enemies, ignores their SPR stat
  • Bahamut
    • Ability: Megaflare 
    • Unlock: Mission 8-1-4, "Rematch with Bahamut"
    • Effect: Magic attack on all enemies, ignores their SPR stat
  • Bahamut Fury
    • Ability: Exa Flare 
    • Unlock: Complete 7-5-3 "Girl on the Desert Island", then buy from the Bone Village Shop
    • Effect: Magic attack on all enemies, ignoring SPR stat
  • Odin
    • Ability: Zantetsuken 
    • Unlock: Mission 8-1-6, "Mystery Materia"
    • Effect: Inflicts Sudden Death on all enemies. Doesn't work on bosses etc
  • Phoenix
    • Ability: Rebirth Flame 
    • Unlock: During Chapter 9, follow the Nibelheim Wonders side quest, and check the water tower.
    • Effect: Magic attack on all enemies that ignores SPR, plus gievs Zack Reraise Status, reviving him upon death

DMW Chocobo Mode Summons

  • Chocobo
    • Ability: Chocobo Stomp
    • Unlock: Mission 8-4-1, "Suspicious Mail 1"
    • Effect: Physical attack on all enemies, ignoring their VIT stat; Can Crit
  • Cactuar
    • Ability: 1000 Needles
    • Unlock: Mission 10-1-3, "Cactuar Found?"
      • To unlock this mission, you first must go to Mission 3-1-3 "Eliminate the Copies" and find the optional 'Kactuar' enemy. Defeat it to unlock Mission 10-1-1, and then complete it and 10-1-2 to unlock 10-1-3.
    • Effect: 18 Physical Attack hits at a fixed damage level
  • Tonberry
    • Ability: Murderous Thrust 
    • Unlock: Mission 10-2-3, "Master Tonberry"
    • Effect: Physical Attack on one enemy, ignores VIT, Can Crit
  • Cait Sith
    • Ability: Courage Boost! 
    • Unlock: Mission 8-4-3, "Suspicious Mail 3"
    • Effect: Cures negative status effects, and gives Zack a range of buffs
  • Moogle
    • Ability: Moogle Power 
    • Unlock: Mission 8-4-4, "Suspicious Mail 4"
    • Effect: Levels up all of your currently equipped Materia instantly
  • Magic Pot
    • Ability: Item Mugger
    • Unlock: A more complicated one - you must encounter and beat a Magic Pot the right way in certain side missions. We have a full Magic Pot unlock guide, but here's the short version:
      • The earliest place to find a Magic Pot is Mission 10-2-3. Just keep running away from the Tonberry encounters until the Pot appears in one of them. This pot will want you to use Jump, Fira, Gravity, and Assault Twister on it - so make sure you have them equipped. Don't attack the pot other than with the specific attacks it asks to be hit with!
      • Alternatively, the Magic Pot can be found in 2-2-6, asking for Blizzaga, Firaga, Thundaga, and Gravity.
      • Or in 2-5-4 and 2-55-5 (asking for Ultima, Tri-Fire, Iron Fist, and Electrocute
      • Or 7-6-6, asking for Gil Toss, Costly Punch, 99,999 damage, and Octaslash - which also unlocks the Genji Shield.
    • Effect: Magic Pot appears and gives you some items, with the items depending on your DMW level#

How to raise every character's DMW level to 100%

In order to level the DMW up to 100% for every character, you'll probably need to use special DMW materia.

In Crisis Core's DMW Menu, you'll be able to see that each DMW character has a "progress" bar that will appear anywhere between 0% and 100%, depending on the character in question. This is your progression with each image on the DMW, and completionists will want to get them to 100%.

The percentages are linked to the 'memories' of each character, which is what appears occasionally and interrupts gameplay when their faces appear on the reels. These are short story sequences depicting their life with Zack, and are skippable - though skipping them does not impact it counting towards your DMW level.

How the percentages works varies basted on the character in question:

  • For Sephiroth, Angeal, Tseng, Cloud, Cissnei, and Aerith, you must see six different 'memories' for each character
  • For Genesis, you'll need to see just two memories
  • For Summons and Chocobo Mode Characters, you'll only need to see their summon animation once to instantly jump to 100%. 

Seeing all these memories can be a pain, given that they occur at random. One thing you can do, however, is equip special materia that raises the chance of a particular character appearing in the DMW. Get the Octaslash Materia and equip it, for instance, and it makes Sephiroth more likely to appear - increasing your chances of getting the Octaslash Limit, but also raising the chances of seeing his memories.

You can do this for every character on the DMW, though these materia are expensive and the shops where they're sold not unlocked until later in the game. Here's the relevant shops:

  • Research Dept. QMC+: From a chest in Gongaga Village, Chapter 10. Missable. Sells the materia for Sephiroth, Angeal, Tseng, Cloud, Aerith, and Cissnei. 
  • Net Shop Shade: From Mission 9-5-4; sells the Genesis DMW materia.
  • Bone Village: Unlocked via Mission 7-5-3. Sells the DMW summon materia.