Guest Writer: Final Fantasy VII

Final Fantasy VII really is a classic, even if I never finished it. Luckily Squalje did, and put down his thoughts on it.

This started off as a reply to Roynaldo’s Final Fantasy thread in the forums and I had planned to briefly and concisely talk about which FF games I‘ve played and what I liked/disliked in them. A cup of Tetley’s later, I found I have veered wildly off course and ended up with a wall of text. Oh boy what a topic Roy, Final Fantasy, I could talk about this all day…

I used to be, and probably still am, a big fan of RPGs and Final Fantasy in particular. My first foray into this legendary series was, like a lot of people, Final Fantasy VII on the PS1. Actually scratch that, it was on the PC. My apologies, Final Fantasy has been so synonymous with the PlayStation Brand that I’d forgotten my first experience was trying to play FF7 on a Pentium 90Mhz with 32Mb of RAM. The game box actually stated that it required a 133Mhz just for the minimum, low resolution graphics but I was delighted it ran at all and was seemingly playable on my Pentium 90, and thus my love for FF began (I later discovered, when I got a better PC and a PS1, that everything in the game, including the movies, ran at a much slower pace than intended and it probably took me 1.5 times longer than anyone else to finish the game. At least I had more time for the battles).

[drop]At the time, I was doing my GCSEs and had not seen any other RPG like it; I particularly liked the fusion of swords, magic and technology. I thought the 3D graphics and clever use of backdrops were nice, the pre-rendered cutscenes were cinematic and captivating, the art direction was funky and some parts of the world looked utterly gorgeous, and the soundtrack beautifully complemented what was going on.

Aesthetics aside, the game even played brilliantly and the abundance of mini games throughout was both refreshing and quirky. Who remembers finding Gold Saucer for the first time? Who remembers breeding your Chocobos in search of the fabled Golden one? Who remembers having to dress up as a woman to infiltrate the Don’s Mansion and spending your time looking for the constituents of your outfit, including a squats battle for a wig, where the quality of the hairpiece was dependent on how well you did? These were some of the elements that injected fun and its own uniqueness, into the game.

The battle system and mechanics were some of the best around – I know I was thrilled, when I figured out just what you could do with clever Materia combinations, and the various Summons made my jaw drop. The game was also a good enough challenge that it would suit the majority of players and even offered more for those who wanted it. In fact the Ruby and Emerald Weapon Bosses weren’t even in the first Japanese version!

The thing that impressed me most though was the story. Sure it was convoluted, melodramatic, didn’t make sense at times and aspects probably got lost in translation but the fact that there was a detailed narrative running throughout kept me interested and blew my mind. I actually cared about the plights of the main cast and dare I admit it, did shed a tear or two when that moment occurred.

[drop2]I loaded it up recently (on my PS3) and still smiled as I wandered around Midgar with my Avalanche cohorts in tow. However I can’t completely shake the feeling that time has not been so gracious to one of my childhood heroes. I found the game hasn’t aged particularly well visually, but happily it manages to retain its charm and character. Further examination reveals that the battle mechanics are still solid, although randomly instigated battles and lengthy unskippable summon animations wouldn’t go down so well these days.

It is slightly embarrassing looking back now at how much I adored this game but it really was a pivotal moment for me in gaming and storytelling in this medium as a whole. I know full well that complex RPGs and detailed story based games were aplenty before Final Fantasy 7 came out but it was really this game that put Final Fantasy and JRPGs on my personal radar and made me realise that games could tell a decent yarn and deliver it in a way that was exciting, enticing and most of all fun.

Gaming has evolved an extraordinary amount since 1997 but, when I think about it, RPGs haven’t really changed all that much. I’ve played the earlier FF titles and countless RPGs from other series and although there are new ideas and advances coming in all the time, you will still find designs in games that suggest they were inspired by past titles such as Final Fantasy VII. It is not just developers that like to look at the past occasionally either, people like to glance backwards and often yearn for the old favourites to be revisited. Whether this is nostalgia talking or some other element is inconsequential.

People keep asking for a Final Fantasy VII remake but I really hope they don’t. I rather they focus their energies on something new and bring us something fresh to be excited about and to speak fondly of in years to come.

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25 Comments

  1. VI is the best in the series. If you haven’t played that you really should.

    • I have it on the SNES, its apparently coming out on the PSN soon in Japan

    • I have and it really is such a fine piece of work. Such a dastardly villain and love the focus on multiple characters and their stories. Plus Terra’s Theme is one of the best FF themes.

  2. Cool piece, i love FFVII but i agree with your last point. We had a big discussion on twitter about it and i was on the side that stuff like the introduction of voice acting if a remake was done would spoil it. I’m currently going through FFIX and i can see why the producer said it was his favourite of the ones he’d produced :)

    • I would dislike the voice acting as i prefered to take my time reading the dialog.And it was useful if i couldn’t pause the game so i would often leave it at that dialog box.:D if they changed everything.I would not be happy. Just an update to the graphics and trophy support would be enough. And fixing the amount of typos. I doubt we will see a remake anytime soon,unless Square Enix needs an colossal amout of extra income.:OD

      • No no! Don’t fix the typos, it’s part of the charm. Fixing them is akin to fixing the stormtrooper smacking his head on the doorframe in Star Wars. :D

      • You have a good point about the typos.But i think the storm trooper hitting his head has been fixed in the latest rerelease. It would be fixed whether we like it or not. it would be even more funny if we saw cloud cross dressing in HD.XD

  3. This is one of my all time favorites.I hate it when people overrate the living hell out of it and seem to think that it had no flaws at all. There has been many arguments between FF7 and FF6 fans on the web. This game is what got me into RPGS and that was over 2 years ago. I believe that FF9 is a wee bit better then 7. i said a wee bit better.An excellent article. I have yet to complete a FF game. I always get my a*** whooped by Sephiroth or i just lose interest in the game.E.g. FF8,although i didn’t grind that much,so that is probably why. I hate it whenever someone will openly call this game crap without any reasons why they think it is and then go onto say that [insert generic FPS] is the bestest game there is.If this were to be remade and only the graphics and the typos were updated,i would sell my entire game collection just for that. ok maybe not all of it but i would still try to scrape enough money together to buy it. I enjoyed FF7:advent Children which was a movie sequel to it. i have go on a bit. This is what happens when you bring up one of my all time favorite games.I really hope that FF7:crisis Core will be ported to PS3,as i have not played that but i have seen the cutscenes. I shall stop now,otherwise the TSA servers may commit suicide if i keep on speaking about this.

  4. I’ve never had a PS1, so I bought FF7 game earlier this year and it’s among the list of too many games I’m currently playing through. With the PS-smoothing, this games craphics (I misspelled that, but found it to have a comic effect to it :-) ) are easily overcomable. The music is sweet, the story is great, characters are well built and the gameplay is classic FF. Well worth the price for fans of the series.

  5. My second favourite game ever made.

    I fondly remember every aspect of it, even taking a week off school to breed a golden chocobo, I did it too! On certain levels, I feel it shouldn’t be re-made …. It’s a tough one. I’d jump at the chance to re-play it in HD but I love the charm of the graphical limitations of the time.

    One thing I do know is, If they introduced voice, please give an option to turn them off because love the silence and I play it all through in my head creating voices for them all in turn.

    I know that Dragon Quest VIII was lauded for having voices but I liked the Hero because he was silent. Imagination is a powerful thing and I tend to spread it fairly liberally in JRPG’s. :)

  6. I apologise for the extra post but who did you like as your main three heroes, Squalje?

    • Tough question. I played as Cloud, Tifa and Aeris in the beginning and ended up with Cloud, Red XIII and Vincent by the end. I liked using Yuffie too even though she was always thieving the materia. Who did you like?

      • My favourite’s were always Cloud, Red XIII and Cid. I liked Yuffie and Barrett a lot too but my three never change.

  7. This was my first PS1 game and it’s the reason why I fell in love with the franchise. It was 5-10 years after I bought the game that I actually managed to finish it! It’s still one of my all time favorite games.

  8. I remember reading the previews and reviews of FF VII in OPM, and I wanted it straight away. I’d had no previous experience of the series, but everything about it appealled to me. The day I got it feels like the first day of a 14 year love affair with Final Fantasy, which has had ups, and downs, and include such weird nerdy moments as walking down the aisle to a classical version of the crystal theme and having a large Cloud tattoo on my left thigh.
    Everyone has their own views on which was the best game, best character, best summon etc. but maybe the fact that these debates cause such disagreement proves just how much quality Square brought to the series over the years.
    And just to throw my hat into the ring, I’m dead against a remake. Leave the game as it was meant to be, dated now admittedly, but back in ’97 it was staggeringly awesome! *kupo*

    • Ok, gotta see that Cloud tattoo. :D Post it in the forums please. :)

  9. Reading this has made me want to dust off the PSP and load up FF7, great read.

    • I want to download them!!!… but yeah I should really play Crisis Core

  10. FF7 never interested me when it came out, but then none off the FFs really have, barring FF9 (strange considering it was filled with fan service to previous games).

    Remakes are usually a huge waste of time, as they take away some of the things that define what the game was, and as such I hope they don’t touch FF7 for that, as I could see it going very wrong…

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