Why Final Fantasy VII matters


#1

[Read the post]


#2

Where is the header art from? It reminds me of these AWESOME fan art paintings of most of the game.


#3

Never got into it. FF6 was the last good one as far as I’m concerned. The one that made me feel emotions out of a video game for the second time (first was Chrono Trigger - my entry into the genre).


#4

I played this game – on the PC version, oddly enough, since I heard it was “amazing” from console people – and I wasn’t impressed.

Well, I take that back. The spell animations were kind of awesome, like the one where they call down a whole planet to smash into your party, trashing the entire solar system in the process, was pretty sweet.

(yeah, sitting through a few of those got old, too, I think some of them were skippable?)

But as far as story, narrative, etc… eh. JRPG kid stuff.


#5

FFVII was the second JRPG I played, the first being Suikoiden II, which I finished. I got pulled in by the TV ads; the soaring music and (for the time) amazing FMV just made the world look so grand and… Epic. It was obviously very far ahead of Suikoiden, which was completely 2D.

It was a Saturday morning and I walked into town and bought it from GAME in Guildford, and spent the rest of the weekend playing it. I played it most nights after work, but even after it seemed like I’d played it for ages, I’d still not got off the first disk. Unfortunately I ended up not playing it for a couple of weeks and when I went back I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to be doing, so I never quite got back in to it. I’d always meant to finish it but then my special high-capacity 3rd party memory card failed and lost all my save games.

It’s funny reading this again - it brings back some of the emotions of awe and intrigue I felt when playing it. I’m not sure I have the time to replay it now, though. I’m not sure I should anyway.


#6

Do you remember when Aeris died?

Ugh, spoilers.

And then we lay Aeris herself upon the water. It’s not until you see
her body float down with gentleness, surrounded by graceful beams of
light filtering through the impossible deep, that you begin to grasp
that she really has died and will not come back. In three musical
notes ascending, three descending—hum along, you know them—you
understand that sometimes faith is not rewarded in obvious ways.

You were a lonely kid in a small town running around inside a video
game world, hoping to know what adulthood and purpose is really like,
and you understand, then, that sometimes you can pray and pray and no
one will answer. That all kinds of things are going to be taken from
you.

…No, actually I thought, “Eh, she’ll be back.”


#7

Never change, Leigh Alexander.


#8

Great piece, reminding us that art is not great solely for what it speaks to us, but who we are, at the time, as listeners.

To me, this theme is connected to Rob’s question earlier in the week

To aspire toward objectivism is to deny what makes one a unique soul: our hopes, dreams, fears, and experiences.


#9

Digital painting by moi, based on screenshots from the Advent Children flick.


#10

This makes me feel so old. I never got into VII, but I beat I and II so many times it ain’t funny.

Anyone remember Questron?


#11

For me, the quintessential FF1 party was fighter, black belt, white mage, black mage. Never saw the value in red mages.

I got into FF9 because of FF1 nostalgia (black mages are awesome), and now I nostalgia-play FF9 on an emulator

I don’t remember questron, but graphically it looks kind of like early ultima


#12

Nostalgia is a hell of a drug.

Though I confess I like FF10 better from both a design and story perspective, and the polygons of 7 never quite had the emotional range or variety that the pixels at the height of the SNES era had, it’s hard to deny how this game affected an entire generation.


#13

Final Fantasy VII is very close to my heart. When I saw the announcement it was getting remade at E3, I got emotional. With that being said, it still comes in at #2 behind Chrono Trigger!


#14

This remake fills me when trepidation.

They’ve already made a few spinoffs of Final Fantasy VII including a movie, and they were largely mediocre.

Thing is, the game was a special thing at a special time in video games. It was a confluence of evolved rpg gameplay with a movie production budget which was an absolute treat in 1997.

It was seared in the conscious of any gamer who cared for it back in the day. Even now, almost 20 years later, many of the main characters are instantly recognizable and still show up in fan art.

But to do a remake that does this game justice is to me an unattainable goal. Nicer graphics and familiar music might tickle your nostalgic fancy, but to recapture how special it was? It can’t turn back time. We’re all older now. We may even have kids who are about our age when we first played this game back then. I could appreciate the lives of these young upstarts a lot better when I could count myself among them. Unlike back then, video games made as huge productions are now common place. I’m not sure what it could do now to recapture the feeling of an instant classic.

But like a moth to flame, I’m certainly willing to let myself be pleasantly surprised (or badly burned).


#15

Ha! :frowning: Maybe in the PC port…

FF8 was worse. You could boost some of the summons by repeatedly mashing buttons. So not only were the cutscenes long, you were encouraged to wear out your finger joints in the process.


#16

I had no idea they were making a remake of FFVII until this article. Mixed emotions- they will never recapture
perfection perfectly timed, it’s just going to fuck up the mythology and meaning of the original’s memories.

Your article perfectly encapsulated how I felt about the game when it came out, and I think I was 13.
It was the first game then or since that actually felt like it had a soul, somehow, and its mere existence extended beyond simple gaming, we knew before it came out it was going to be iconic- but we thought that of every game that was advertised back then, because the quality noticeably went up with every release.

That ended for me after 7. It never felt like there was a total revolution, a totally new horizon of gaming ahead after that. It all degraded into formulaic, predictable and pretty games. No crafting, let alone writing. Nothing that tried to be anything beyond that. I think you get that the same way I did when I was 13. That game was a religion for me for years, every trivial detail mattered in some way to me at a deep level. I felt more awe and beauty in life playing it than I did ever going to church. I don’t mean that to be cruel to religious folk- it really just was like that.

Ironically, still have the original game discs and case- the original, when it was released. Not just the greatest hits issue. For the first time, I realized that game was so precious to me, that after I played it a few years, and still at a young age, realized the disks would degrade even if exposed to light, no matter what, I bought a playing copy of it with the greatest hits label. The originals I’ve never used since- they exist to me like a coffin, closed on a body as if for worship, almost in hopes that, unseen inside, that person- that game code, will last forever, and beyond me.

I know that is beyond insane. But if you are reading this, and you’ve never played it- or weren’t born until after it came out, you’ll likely never understand how those of us that were there, by sheer luck, to have lived when that came out. It really was that good a game, that deeply well crafted, illustrated, scored, and written- it felt like it had it’s own beautiful soul, one that you couldn’t help but feel enraptured to meet.

Looking back at the graphics now, it’s sad- but I may have lost the ability to believe it still is as it was. Modern graphics needlessly opened the casket, so to say, just because the latch was there, with no respect for what came before. And I worry this remake is doing just that, and trying to slap makeup on a 20 year dead corpse, that I could have kept imagining like Kobo Daishi was still alive inside his reliquary.

If anyone doubts me, or thinks I’m crazy- why do you think they’ve already had a movie about this, and various side games? And now, an unprecedented remake 20 years after the fact? It’s never happened before.

Just thinking about the game, and holding the original disks is actually making me cry. If that’s not love, imagine what is? Yeah, I know, I’m crazy. But I’d be crazy along with Leigh anyday on this.


#17

Leigh you know why i love this? because you perfectly described exactly how i felt and my reaction. As an adult male i cried, i literally cried. Damn you Japan, you know how to tug on my heart strings


#18

I’m not one to begrudge anyone a remake of a game they love, but for me, FF7 was the beginning of the end for the classic era of Square, and their decades-long focus on re-releasing and re-exploring it has come at the detriment of the rest of the industry.

Maybe it’s my personal experience with the game - I played through the game compulsively at the age of 20, unlocking every ounce of content (Gold Chocobo, check; Knights of the Round, check; every weapon defeated, check) while living in a college group house with four other gamers who also played through the game in their own saves on the single living room TV. I’ve seen every cutscene more times than I can recall, and reviewed the plot often enough to be painfully aware of how little of it actually makes sense when you think about it.

Or maybe I was just a little too old for it to develop the nostalgic haze that others seem to have for it. For me, Square’s best ensemble-cast RPG about a world-destroying maniac is FF6 - the one I played in my own teenage years - and I’ll gladly go on for pages about where one succeeds and the other fails. In fact, my earliest piece of embarrassing gaming over-analysis was a comparison of Kefka vs Sephiroth, and I can’t deny that some of my irritation at the unending stream of love and spin-offs for FF7 comes from a frustration that its predecessor never received that sort of attention.

But most of all, my complaint about FF7 is that it’s the point where Square stopped making games and started making movies.

No one can deny that its cinematics and lush visuals captured the attention of a generation who had just gotten Playstations, but few people recognize how much that attention changed the course of the series. Aeris’ death may have left its mark on you, but it happened in a cutscene with absolutely zero player agency. In previous FF games, the player had some influence in whether or not beloved characters lived or died - did you stay for Shadow when the world was destroyed? Did you catch fish to feed Cid? Whose lives did you rebuild after the villain destroyed the world?

In FF6, your actions made a difference. In FF7, you were just watching their movie. But it was a movie that built a generation of fans, so that’s the style they stuck with for future FF games.

So, as much as I’m glad that people are getting a remake of a game they love, the whole thing leaves me cold. I’m not sure if it’s a generational difference or just me being a professional curmudgeon, but I feel like it’s just Square continuing to celebrate the wrong parts of their work. But it’ll make them money and keep good devs in business, and I guess I can’t complain about that.


#19

Hmm, I was expecting Square Enix to wait a lot longer to re-release their most loved (As in cash cow) intellectual property. Maybe something like 2020 or around those dates.

I think this means they are in trouble, as the latest installments in the series were abysmal and not very well liked all around.

I had the innocent plan of playing all the Final Fantasies/Fantasy-es, I started with 6 (My #1 favorite game of all times and genres, #2 is Chrono Trigger), then 5, 4, 7, 2 and 3. Tried with 8, I didn’t liked it… Then I tried from 13 backwards, didn’t liked it… So I abandoned this plan.

FFVII isn’t in my top ten video games list, and I hope there are other boingboingers that also appreciate the steampunkinnes of FFVI!! Such a nice game…

Still, I don’t like remakes or reboots that much, but then again, if they are doing the Ben-Hur movie, FFVII is like the Ben-Hur of videogames I guess…

Is this the end of the entertainment industry innovation, will our children’s great grandsons be watching the re-re-re-re-remake of the reboot of SpiderMan and playing FFVII in the PS14?

I had such big hopes for humanity. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


#20

Agree, FF6 is the one and only. FF7 actually defines the split between the classic FFs and the newer ones, from that one onwards, it was downhill into eye candy land, but I have heard good things about FF14.

I played and won FF7, but I was more into “finish it quickly” mode and didn’t made me feel the thrill and excitement of adventure that FF6 and Chrono Trigger made me experience. Tried FF8, never finished, tried going backwards from FF13 (the tunnel simulator), the same.