Life was strange for me for a long time, and during a lot of that time I focused on video games to offer myself a new change of scenery, instead of crumbling like i wanted to. I played FFVII up until the very end, where we watch Tifa and Cloud laying together talking. I refused to advance any farther into the game, and I have no answer as to why. I’ve beaten the game itself so many times with and without a guide up to that point that i’ve memorized the item locations permanently, the special battle strategies for all the bosses..everything. Countless hours spent mastering every materia just to exchange it for the Master Materia. The unforgiving battles against Ruby, and Emerald, all to lead up to the very point in the game where I couldn’t go back, so I would start a new game and begin the journey all over.
Final Fantasy 7 was my breakthrough to RPGs, but i’m pretty sure I can acknowledge it, also, for the start of my obsession with video games. I was roughly about 8-9 minding my own business, playing with toys when on a cold rainy night my Father walks in with a brand new Playstation with Need for Speed V-Rally and Final Fantasy 7. Riddled with impatience I played every bit of 10 mins of FF VII before I put it away, not to be seen very often until about a year later, when my Father was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.
Innocence is a foundation for childern, it lets them grow imagination and create fantasies within their heads, untouched by the cold truths of reality and mine was ripped away the day we found out. We made the best of the situation as well as we could, but one profounding memory I have is restarting FFVII with him, mostly me playing and him watching, but this time I was absorbed into the storyline far more than I ever could have conceived. I took my angst and confusion and allowed it to be over washed by the sensations I experienced playing. The opening video is still engraved into my head from the countless playthroughs I burned through, craving perfection on each one. Watching Aerith’s face glowing with a green hue, her footsteps echoing as she walks down the street and then we get our first full glimpse of Midgar before we are thrown into a raid against one of Shinra’s reactors.
These graphics at the time blew my mind, being used to Sega Genesis’ 16 bit was nothing compared to the 3D model i was experiencing here. It was magical for many years to come for me. The boss theme when battling the Guard Scorpion and many other bosses to come along with the various tracks grew more and more compelling the deeper i dove into the sto ruling. Nobuo Uematsu was a Godsend for that OST because every time I hear Cosmic Canyons theme I get this feeling of nostalgic that words cannot describe other than the warmth that spreads across your chest during your first kiss.
The story was probably so good to me because of where I was at in life during that time period, when Sephiroth killed Aerith was seeing my Father be reduced from the Superman I grew up idolizing to the ghost of a man, the cancer by then was slowly defeating him, and it was evident. When my Father did pass, it was during the part of the story where Cloud washes up at the tropical resort in a completely catatonic state which couldn’t of described my life more perfectly as it came to a complete halt.
I’ve managed to never spoil the ending for myself, over a decade ago and it still haunts me as a completionist that i’ve never succeeded with getting a 100% in the very game that helped me overcome my depression. Who knows, maybe i’ll convince myself to give it another go before the remake comes out.
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