Final Fantasy VII/Desert Prison, Chocobo race, and a visit to Gongaga
The desert prison is a rough place, but mostly because there are enemies that either try to steal stuff from you or explode in your face. So be quick to dispatch the Bandit if you encounter one should you want to keep your stuff. You start here with whoever you picked to be with you in Gold Saucer, and Cait Sith.
Head to the larger area below. There is a pest for a person following you and laughing in your face, ignore him. A lot of people here seem to suggest that you can get back up if you win a Chocobo race. Also, this Boss person seems to be in charge. You meet Mr. Coates in the bottom of the area, but it turns out he's just an underling. There's a save point here, as well as a bar on the bottom right corner where you can buy some supplies.
Barret, who you misplaced temporarily, is in the bigger house on right side. Barret kills an eavesdropper behind a couch and then the rest of the folk come to hear about Barret and Dyne's story. In the end, you need to pick one character besides Barret to your group. You can grab the chance to rest for free in the cab of the Shin-Ra truck.
Head back up past the save point, through the gate. Go up again, you'll note a manhole with an empty chest in the bottom, through the gate on the left; into the desert. Go through the open gate on the right, into the area where a guy is walking in circles. Then, keep running to the right. You'll reach an area with a big crack in the ground. When you reach the area with the wandering man, stroll about until you get into a battle with Death Claw. You can learn the Enemy Skill Laser from him. This is the only point in the game where you can learn it until Disc 3, so use this opportunity while you have it. Now that you have the Manipulate materia, it should be a piece of cake. Just manipulate the Death Claw and have him cast it on whoever has Enemy Skill materia equipped. Also, you can learn Matra Magic (if you haven't already) from Bull Motor in the general Corel Prison area.
At this point, you should equip Barret pretty well, because the Boss person shows up here. He seems to be quite bitter and wants to kill Barret, and Barret fights him alone.
After beating Dyne, he throws a piece of jewelry to Barrett then jumps off the cliff to his death.
 Chocobo race
Now Coates seem to be more eager to sign you up for a Chocobo race, and a woman called Ester shows up and becomes your manager. Ester gets you to the jockey room by elevator and explains how to control the Chocobos. In the jockey room, there's Ramuh materia which you should definitely pick up.
For specifics on racing, see the Chocobo section. A simple hint is to hold down +++, which reduces your Chocobo's stamina drain while racing. Actually, you can't mess anything up here; if you lose, you get to try again, and again. Once you win, Dio sends you a letter of congratulations, gives you the Buggy, your first vehicle in the game, and hints that Sephiroth went to Gongaga. +
 Enemy Skills
Now that you have the Buggy and the Manipulate materia, you can start learning some good Enemy Skills. Start by getting Aqualung from the Harpy monster. Harpy can be found by driving around in the desert area around the Gold Saucer. Just manipulate Harpy and make it cast Aqualung on your party to learn it. Next, drive around the beach close to Gongaga until you run into the Beach Plugs to learn Big Guard. This is one of the most useful enemy skills in the game.
At this point, it's theoretically (and practically, if you're patient) possible to drive back to Costa del Sol, take a ship back to Junon for 100 gil, and then find a green-and-white bird called Zemzelett from the Junon area. You can Manipulate it to learn the White Wind Enemy Skill, which is very useful. It's a long journey though, and it's not strictly necessary; you may want to wait until later for this. With that in mind, to reach the lower Junon area, use the freight elevator beside the save station in the hallway where you first trained for Rufus' parade.
If you do go back and get White Wind, you can head back inside Mythril Mine to get Flame Thrower from the Arkdragon if you missed it the first time or if you need it for a second Enemy Skill materia.
Then, you can battle Midgar Zolom and learn Beta, if you're really daring. He's still a very tough monster at this stage in the game, but Beta is a great skill to have as it causes heavy fire damage to all opponents. Make sure you have Big Guard before going into this battle. You'll also want to give each party member Tranquilizers before hand and put your Enemy Skill user in the back row.
To continue the game, head back to Gongaga - the big blown-up Mako reactor to the south, in middle of the woods. When you get to Gongaga, you hear Reno and Rude talking about the ladies. Elena shows up, alerts the others, and then you're fighting Reno and Rude.
After the fight, head left and pick up a Deathblow command materia in the middle of the path. This path will lead back out to the world, instead head right of the fork, and you'll enter the melancholic village of Gongaga. Speak to the varying people around town, especially at the graveyard, they refer to the terrible explosion that occurred many years ago. A parent person will trigger a reaction from Tifa and/or Aeris if they're in your party in reference to Zack, another SOLDIER. You'll encounter shops that sell items you will find very useful such as Time, Mystify, and Fury ring. Go to the inn and you'll find a chest containing a X-Potion. In the Mayor's home in the far right corner, you can grab a White M-Phone for Cait Sith.
Head back down the path where you came in, and go right this time and you'll enter the ruined reactor. A helicopter will appear with Scarlet and Tseng in it. They will explore the reactor, looking for the Huge Materias and leave. After they leave, walk close to the area where Scarlet stood and you'll pick up Titan materia.
After you've stocked up, it's time to head down and left, to the world map and back on the buggy, and head west. Alas, before you do that, be sure to learn a new enemy skill in this area.
- Enemy Skill
- Frog Song from Touch me