9. Final Fantasy VII

Final Fantasy VII PlayStation Front Cover

Developer: Square
Publisher: Square
Year: 1997
Platform: Playstation, PS3, PSP, Windows

I got this game for Windows shortly after it came out, but my computer wasn’t strong enough to handle it. So I returned it and bough a bunch of You Don’t Know Jack games. Yeah.

Anyway, I eventually borrowed this game from a friend and the Playstation from my brother and fell completely in love with the game. I’m a sucker for anti-heroes, and Cloud was a perfect character to express my teen angst. I’ve fallen out of love with it a little bit over the years due to the poor graphics and the poor final chapter of the game.

One thing I loved about this game immediately is that the entire plot of the game isn’t shoved in your face right away. Yeah, there’s some missions and some local bad guys, but your characters certainly aren’t heroes and there’s absolutely no desire there for them to be heroes. I also loved the darkness and overall somber mood the game portrays at the beginning while you’re still near Shinra’s headquarters. Even after you reach the main game map, the game is engrossing as you methodically travel from town to town, solving local missions, subverting local bad guys, gaining new party members. The first disc represents some of the best Square had to offer, ever. I suppose I should spoiler it, but it’s been 17 years, so fuck it: Aeris’ death is great. I was sad to see her go, and sad about all the time I spend building up her stats. But it was great for the plot. Like Stephen King, I was glad Square wasn’t afraid to kill off someone it made you care about. There’s nothing more lame than feeling comfortable that every good guy will always triumph.

Final Fantasy VII PlayStation Seaman

The gameplay is similar to Final Fantasy VI. Replacing espers are materia, but it’s virtually the same concept. It also carries the same problem as VI, in that every character can eventually learn every spell. And the best spells at the end of the game call out some of our favorite Final Fantasy deities like Shiva, Ifrit, Maduin, etc. Unfortunately, these spells can take up to a minute to play out in a gorgeous cut scene. For a few go arounds, they’re great to look at. But after a while, I really don’t want to see the whole animation. The game’s best summon can take well over a minute. Blah. Regardless, it’s fairly intuitive. I just wish there was more to distinguish each character as far as ability goes.

Many people criticize how awful the graphics look, what with all the polygons. While this didn’t bother be in the late 90’s, it definitely is jarring now, as opposed to the SNES games, which still look fantastic today. I’ve played this game twice and have been able to overlook the graphics, but it definitely hurts things.

Final Fantasy VII PlayStation Memories

Final Fantasy VII would rank higher if not for the long and plodding last half of the game. Once you meet all of your party and visit every town, the plot surrenders itself to a bunch of sidequests and leveling up to keep interest, which is only for so long. The final boss is incredibly easy, so it’s not like you need to spend a lot of extra time on side quests; but there’s so many that one feels obligated to check out some of them. At least I can brag that I was able to defeat both Emerald and Ruby Weapon. Of course, by the time I was strong enough to do this, I was able to defeat the final boss with my eyes closed.

I’m pretty sure I’ll never play this game again due to the aforementioned issues, but it did resonate with me quite a bit at the time, which counts for something. I would still recommend that fans of the series play it through once, if for nothing else than the story which is fairly tight and occasionally moving.

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17 thoughts on “9. Final Fantasy VII

  1. This was really the first RPG I ever played and I definitely still have some strong nostalgic memories of it. I want to go back through it one of these days, possibly after I play IV and VI, both of which I’ve never played. I suspect I’ll be able to overlook the graphics issues, but can definitely understand how it could be tough to take with current advancements.

    Its thinking back on this game that makes me really want to play more JRPG’s. For some reason, I love the turn-based fighting and all the other stuff that goes with games like this.

  2. I was never able to get through this one. The polygons were just too much. The funny thing is, if Square-Enix remade this in a more FF VI 16-bit sprite fashion (or updated for the 3DS), I would probably love it.

  3. First of all, don’t hate You Don’t Know Jack. Those games are fun.

    Second, I finally finished this one up a few years ago, and it’s comfortably in my top 20, mostly for the fantastic first half, but also because I just said “fuck it” and decided that rather than muck around leveling up and sidequesting for a dozen hours, I was going to beat the game slightly underleveled. The boss fight was quite a bit harder, and a lot more satisfying that way.

    I’m still Team Tifa.

    Also, did you ever check out the sequel movie, Advent Children? It’s fairly dumb, but kind of fun.

    • I love You Don’t Know Jack. But they’re not that much fan to play by one’s self and it was very difficult to find anyone to play with me.

      Haven’t seen Advent Children; I didn’t hear much good.

  4. I enjoyed the first half of this game. Maybe if I had avoided the side quests and leveling up the second half would have played better. It was just too much. Not a fan of materia type stuff in these games and the time spent trying to keep characters optimized.

    What is it with the oversized and overly complicated designs of weapons in RPGs? They would need arms twice as long just to be able to pull them out of their sheaths and they do not look like they are well balanced. And would it be so hard to give the gamer an option to turn off magic animations after it’s first appearance. If a battle takes a minute, 30 seconds of it would be magic video productions and another 15 seconds would be the whirling cut scenes from the map into the battle. Enough already!

    Add this game to the list of character naming failures as I changed Aeris’ name to my now wife’s name. I was not aware the Mr. King was a Final Fantasy fan. Interesting.

    • I think it’s funny to complain about the unrealistic size of the weapons when it’s expected that a handful of people can fight a war against thousands of baddies and never permanently die.

      I stopped renaming characters around the time I played this for that reason, though I got really lucky with FFVI.

  5. When I first played this, my mind was closed because I really dig the whole medieval thing in my RPGs. I did learn to love it, of course, but man, the PSOne was some rough going, as it wasn’t charming like before or realistic like what came after.

    This is way up there for me, as although it has some of VI’s problems, the characters are much better-drawn and actually have payoffs, unlike all the dangling threads in VI that annoy me every time I play it.

  6. Oh, and Advent Children: it is immensely stupid. You’ll have plenty of fun with it, but there’s one scene and a couple of battles that made me embarrassed I was watching.

    • Oh, absolutely. Just incredibly stupid.

      I haven’t seen it in a few years – which scene are you talking about? There’s a couple that I’m thinking it could be.

      • The one where all the heroes, one by one, keep kicking Cloud hundreds of feet higher into the sky.

        …if these characters can basically do anything in the world, remind me again why I’m interested in their “struggles?” Also, if they can do that, why didn’t they do that to reach the top of Shinra Towers in the game? Why sneak past security for 80 floors when you have a human elevator that can drop Cloud off at the top?

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