Personal Favorite Review — Final Fantasy VII

Well it’s my birthday. Let’s celebrate being in my late twenties with a review of the Japanese game that changed the medium forever, as well as brought anime games to the States.

  • You know what the funny thing about my love for Final Fantasy VII is? I never played it until just last year. Obviously I knew about it growing up, read the entire player’s guide as a kid, watched other people I wish I had gotten along more with play it back when it was popular, indulged in some of the (terrible) spin-offs, and knew about all the major plot twists. But I never played it (or any mainstream Final Fantasy game) myself, because by the time I got into anime games, it was more popular to hate Final Fantasy than it was to love it, and VII looked too dated for me compared to Tales of Symphonia – the other major anime game influence that I actually played.
  • However, after reading a very convincing argument (that I can’t find anymore) regarding how you can’t deny what FFVII brought to the console RPG market regardless if you hate it or not the same way you can’t deny Evangelion’s influence on anime, I finally got out of that hipster mentality and spent an entire Labor’s Day weekend on the game itself. And even though I knew all the twists, I was surprised by just how much I didn’t know about the game. Like just how much t would suck me in.

Best party to play as, and not because it consists of Cloud and his two honies. Not just ’cause of that anyways.

  • Final Fantasy VII is the story about a spiky-haired mercenary named Cloud Strife and his fight against a ruthless organization called Shinra, whose technological advances are sucking the planet dry, as well as his own past as a member of the SOLDIER organization that serves as Shinra’s elite fighters.
  • After a few cat-and-mouse exchanges between the two entities, a third party and other former SOLDIER by the name of Sephiroth shows up and actively threatens the very existence of the planet itself after discovering that his origins were less home-friendly than Oliver Twist’s. There’s a lot of competing factors and other characters to take into account, but suffice to say, FFVII’s plot can basically be summed up as a Ghibli film with the otaku crowd in mind. As such, expect giant swords, stupid haircuts, big-ass mechs, and Japanese gods all in the name of the environment.
  • As a fan of Ghibli and a guy who doesn’t mind otaku trends as long as you don’t depend on them for substance, it didn’t take me too long to get absorbed into Final Fantasy VII once I had adjusted to the somewhat-dated ATB system. For those who don’t know, the combat is turn-based in that you have to wait for a real-time meter to fill up before you can make an action and when you add in the time it takes to scroll through menus combined with how the enemy can attack you multiple times if you take too long to decide on something, it can be a bit of a pain. However, I soon exploited the shit out of that system in order to absorb enemy moves and level up my Limit Breaks, causing the pros to easily outweigh the cons like being offered a million dollars to touch a little girl’s arm in front of her father.
  • The materia system wasn’t particularly hard to understand either, even if you did need a strategy guide to make the most out of it. Just equip them on your character’s armor, shoot fire, get technical points, achieve access to more fire, badda-bing badda-boom. I like it because it means that every character can access special moves depending on how you spread them, and while it’s obvious that some moves are more suited for specific characters than others, overall it gives you a greater variety of character customization than most Japanese games tend to give large parties nowadays.

Aw, look at little chibi pixel Cloud.

  • I thought the outdated low-res polygon graphics would turn me off (especially if you look at how poorly Final Fantasy VIII has aged in that regard), but I surprisingly found them charming. There’s a certain sort of anime-ish quality to them compared to the more realistic looks that Final Fantasy tends to use now that while still dated, never prevented me from caring about the characters. Granted the transition to how the characters look in the overworld to how they look when they’re actually fighting is a bit distracting, but I’ll take it over Tales of Legendia’s usage of sprites.
  • Having said that, some of the side stuff can go fuck itself up the ass. The soldier minigame is a waste of space and that arena thing you have to win in order to get Cloud’s Omnislash ability is borderline unfair. And while everyone knows what happens to the best healer in the game around the end of Disc 1, I didn’t appreciate how there wasn’t a good substitute afterwards.
  • But the thing that bumfucked me the most were the buttons and how the game labels them. How exactly was I supposed to know that OK means the “O” button, especially when I’m playing on an Xbox 360 controller, and especially especially when the button configuration is flat-out wrong until you download a patch? This gets particularly annoying when you have to time your button presses in order to get rewards during certain story events, and speaking of which, I’m surprised by how involved the non-combat sections of FFVII are in terms of gameplay. Nothing on the level of your typical AAA shooter, but moreso than what I generally see from anime games now.

You have no idea how hard it is to find a Google Image of PS1-era Sephiroth

  • Now one thing I tend to do when playing these sorts of games is to grind levels whilst doing something else, so I can get strong enough to speed through the story whilst keeping up with my other hobbies. So when I found out how leveling up in FFVII worked, I basically just pressed buttons until everyone’s Limit Breaks were at Level 3 whilst watching…I dunno what I did back then. Nevertheless, this meant that by the time I got to Barrett’s solo fight, I already had access to his Level 4 Limit Break and basically one-shotted the dude with a giant space orbital laser before he could so much as sneeze.
  • It was completely worth it though, because the enemies can get annoyingly tough later on with little warning, and the final boss is scaled to match your level, so he can even be a pain in the ass at Level 99. Now I know why my old acquaintances tended to use their Gamesharks whenever they played this thing on the PS1.
  • And yes, the soundtrack to this game kicks ass.

  • I did have to use a guide to make the most out of it (and anyone who recruited Yuffie without a guide is either very patient or a liar), but when it came time to have Cloud dress as a woman in order to break into a rich dude’s house, Final Fantasy VII had hooked me in completely. The locations are nice and varied from ninja villages to fucking casinos. The characters are all likably flawed, spouting nowhere near the amount of angst they do in say, Advent Children. And the story/gameplay, while a bit dated by today’s standards, have a timeless feel to them that managed to work on me even when I was twenty years late to the party.
  • Plus, it’s just great to see where all these JRPG cliches from the games that I did actually play in my youth ended up coming from, or were at least popularized by. I wasn’t even aware FFVII had submarines and flying machines until I played it, even though I knew Cid was a pilot. How the hell you go from this game to that godawful Expanded Universe, I have no idea. But I’m sure Tetsuya Nomura is majorly responsible for it.
  • Now I know after VII – or to be more accurate, after the PS1 era – Final Fantasy went the same route as Tales in that it struggles to keep up with the legacy of what it contributed to the medium afterwards. I’ve played XV, and dear lord was that story awful. Nevertheless, I still want to play all of them (or at least, the non-MMO ones) someday, and am in the process of acquiring that XII remake so I can finally complete my collection (yes, I even own all three XIII games). Hell, I’ll even play that VII remake whenever it comes out, even though I doubt it will be nearly as good as this.

Did you know there was once a time when these characters didn’t look hyper-realistic?

  • With VII getting me into the Final Fantasy zone, it’s just hard to quit it. Although keep in mind, I do have slight perverse interest in seeing failures, especially when they’re big names. Why else would I sit through that godawful Chaos;Child anime, long after fans of the first godawful Chaos show gave up on it?

Minor Quips

  • Mind you, the hospital bills after the father beats the shit out of you will be deducted from the money you win.
  • Can’t wait to play this game again on my PS4 and exploit those game-breaking bugs when you press L3 and R3.
  • Actually, I did play a bit of Final Fantasy VI, but got bored of it after a few hours. That game is dated as shit.

11 responses to “Personal Favorite Review — Final Fantasy VII

  1. I’ve played like half of FF7 years ago. Watched let’s play of the rest. It’s fine, I guess? I’m not impressed by anything in the game. At all.

    It didn’t do anything wrong, but I see nothing impressive in it either. The music is decent, but aside from a few tracks, it’s nothing special. The combat system is basically every JRPG ever. I don’t think the graphic aged very well. Terrible camera angle, poor mix of low-res character models and dark backgrounds, lengthy animation, ridiculous designs…..FF9 is aesthetically more pleasing. The story is fine, but I don’t feel really emotionally invested. Actually, the only thing that surprised me is how silly it is. As you said, it’s basically an anime.

    Frankly, I think I refer 16 bit era JRPG and those influence by it. Generally, I find the darker and more serious those JRPG tries to be, the dumber they became. I like simple yet exciting adventures with clever mechanics like Chrono Trigger, LoH: Trails in the sky, Radiant historia, or Grandia…FF6 is fine too.

    This is probably an unpopular opinion, but I never liked the direction Square Enix took FF to since the PS1. The story get increasingly more convoluted, the drama is soap opera dumb, and they seem to focus more on graphic and action gameplay than being fun adventure.

    • One thing I forgot to put in the review were how long those summons take to actually attack anything. Yes Ifrit you look nice. Now shoot that fireball already.

      This is probably an unpopular opinion, but I never liked the direction Square Enix took FF to since the PS1.

      I think it’s one of those popular on the Internet, unpopular in real life opinions, like with Michael Bay’s Transformers films. Aren’t many places around where people don’t say they’re awful online, yet they still make a shitton of money, and I don’t think it’s just from people watching them “ironically”.

      Nevertheless, it was thanks to FF7 that Japanese RPGs started coming to the West, so even if I didn’t like the game, I gotta respect it for that. I’m currently playing Fire Emblem Awakening and only thing I like about it is the gameplay (story is balls and the characters are a large step down from the console era), but it did save the franchise from death for a reason.

      Frankly, I think I refer 16 bit era JRPG and those influence by it.

      Chrono Trigger, LoH: Trails in the sky, Radiant historia, or Grandia…FF6 is fine too

      JRPG as a term has gotten pretty loose these days to the point that it’s hard for me to pinpoint a specific subset I enjoy (edit: well okay, most of my favorites are the popular stuff). As long as you insert RPG elements into a Japanese game, it doesn’t matter if it’s open-world like Yakuza or strategy like Trails of the Sky. Or Mario, which is a whole other world in of itself.

      • Yeah, internet community can’t be trusted when it comes to “popular opinion”. Most people don’t think Michael Bay’s films are masterpiece, but all of my friends think they are entertaining. It’s basically the Sword Art Online situation.

        About JRPG, they thankfully’re branching out. They are varied enough that even though I don’t enjoy FF, there’s other stuffs to play.

        BTW, I think Koe no Katachi Japan BD is out. Have you check it?

      • I saw the raw online, but there aren’t any subs yet. Waiting for them to appear, although I’m not in a hurry because the pain of the initial subs for the Planetarian movie is still too near.

  2. Did you know it’s possible to beat Final Fantasy 7 with using ONLY Limit Breaks? Some guy on Youtube did it with some detailed stipulations in his first video:

    He’s also done other challenges such as “Low Level, No Materia, Initial Equipment, No Accessories” which is pretty insane.

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