In chapter 8 of Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Cloud and company find themselves under threat from Air Buster, a crushingly powerful Shinra weapon - but they have a chance to weaken it with keycards and unit disposal.
Air Buster, or 'the big boy', as Barret calls it, was something of a joke boss in the original FF7. Even if you were under-leveled, he was weak. In FF7 Remake the developers have beefed Air Buster up considerably to make it a formidable opponent. The good news is that the newly expanded Mako Reactor 5 section of the game has an entire mechanic dedicated to weakening Air Buster - and there's player choice thrown in, too.
Air Buster Disposal: what should you remove from the big boy?
Basically, as you clamber through the various levels of Mako Reactor 5, you'll come across a few different boxy-type rooms that have a bunch of guards and a bunch of machine terminals/consoles that you can use. Let's call these console rooms from here on in, for the sake of simplicity. After you defeat the enemies you can use the consoles to 'dispose' of elements of Air Buster's arsenal before you have to fight it at the exit of the reactor. Each thing you dispose of will remove some capability from the boss but also give you items that you can optionally pick up at the end of Mako Reactor 5, right before the fight.
There are three different types of item you can remove from Air Buster, and each disposal type has a different thing it takes away from the boss and a different thing it rewards you. Here they are:
- AI Programming Core: this relates to an Air Buster move that can stun the party. Each AI Programming Core disposed of will lower the amount of times Air Buster will use that ability. You can pick up the AI Programming Core from the Air Buster disposal area at the end of the reactor and later sell them for 500 Gil each.
- Big Bomber: these items are basically huge missiles, thus the name. They do a lot of damage. Removing Big Bombers reduces the amount of time Air Buster can fire these missiles, and if you retrieve the loot you can fire a few yourself using the Big Bomber as an item from the item menu.
- M Units: M Units are basically 'items'. These don't seem to actually impact Air Buster's in-fight performance too much, but when you get to the loot area each M-Unit you remove will give you some items including Ethers, Phoenix Downs and High Potions.
What to remove depends on your play style, but by far the most useful is the Big Bomber and AI Programming Core. You can buy items at any shop or vending machine, but removing some of Air Buster's offensive capability is priceless. In particular, we recommend removing the AI Programming Cores - the stun move is really annoying, but Big Bombers can be blocked or dodged.
Once you've removed the units from Air Buster, you'll have a chance to get the items you put through the Air Buster disposal by opening a second set of the timing lock mini game doors. Behind these doors there's some Magic Up materia, plus a lever you can pull to reveal all the items that beloved to Air Buster that you disposed of. This counts as the 'Waste Recovery' discovery on your map. You'll know you've reached this when you've done the lock mini game and also have access to a side room with a rest spot and a vending machine selling a music disc.
In order to get the Air Buster disposal items you first must actually dispose of them, however. That requires key cards - and there's six key cards total, meaning you can dispose six of a possible nine units headed towards Air Buster. Before you fight Air Buster remember to also set your summon materia - especially if you picked up the Chocobo and Moogle summon from the prior chapter. Here's all the key card locations, to give yourself the best fighting chance...
Airbuster Keycard Locations for Unit Disposal
- You'll find one Keycard in the first room where the consoles are and the whole concept of Airbuster 'part disposal' is explained to you. This is unmissable.
- In the next console room, on level B7, you'll find another card sitting on top of a box.
- There's one more keycard hidden in the hallways between B7 and B6, in a far corner of the boxy room where the stairs reverse direction and you briefly get into a fight.
- Another keycard is found in the next console room, level B6.
- Finally there are two cards in the B5 console room, the final of these rooms that you'll visit.