In this week of celebrating one of the most well-known, and divisive, games of all time, as well as all of the chatter about the upcoming full remake, we have decided to take a trip back in time to where it all began and focus on how the initial release of Final Fantasy VII affected all of us for the very first time. This is not a review, nor is it an attempt to talk about how legendary and/or notoriously bad it is. This is merely meant to be a walk down memory lane, and sharing how it not only became ingrained in our memories, but how it also shaped our gaming futures.
Back when FF7 first came around, I honestly had very little experience with the RPG genre. Oh sure, I had heard of games like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and even Chrono Trigger, but I had never played them mostly due to having a very limited video rental store in my small town (a video rental store is like Gamefly in a building, for you younger kids). Truth be told, the only hands on experience I had with anything that was an RPG AND from Square was Super Mario RPG, which is a game I still love to this day. However, a fateful day came when I went to a friend’s house in 1997 and he was playing, you guessed it, Final Fantasy VII. He was already pretty far into the game, I believe he was fighting Emerald Weapon, and what I saw blew my tiny 10 year old mind. With all of the Materia, the summons, strategies, graphics, swearing, and even the combat, at the time it made Super Mario RPG look like a tiny bike with training wheels and a pink basket on the front.
In fact, it was so much so fast that I was actually a little scared and intimidated by it. How could a game feel so complicated? How could anyone possibly play this game and know what they were doing? This was just so much more than what I was used to. I believed that I would never be able to handle such a game. And for a while, I actually did avoid playing it. Keep in mind, I was a naïve little kid, so it would be a couple of years before I gathered up the courage to actually play it. For those of you with your jaws on the floor from that last sentence, I didn’t have a PlayStation until later on in life and I was still very much enjoying my N64 since I had games like Ocarina of Time and Starfox 64. But eventually I did get my PSX, gathered my courage, and then went to town on FF7.
Two years had passed, and I was still in awe of what I saw. I still remember that infamous opening scene with Midgar and Aerith. There is still a strong level of Nostalgia with this game for me, but for slightly different reasons than others. I came late to the FF7 party, people had already moved on to FF8 and were gearing up for FF9. Me? I was finally beginning to understand the appeal not only of this game, but the others in the RPG genre as well. The emotions attached to the story, the larger than life presentation, and even the rewarding feeling for finally beating a difficult enemy after all of the horrendous grinding.
Suddenly the world was my oyster. I needed to play the rest! Sure enough, I got my hands on FF8 and FF9 (which would become my personal favorite entry). I played Chrono Cross, which definitely a mistake to do before playing Chrono Trigger but I still enjoyed it. When Final Fantasy Chronicles came out, I finally got play Final Fantasy IV and play Chrono Trigger with Akira Toriyama cut scenes. And the list goes on. So where am I with RPG’s today? While I have played every major Final Fantasy with exception of XI, XII, and XIV, I still have a soft spot for this franchise. And while I have ventured out and played other RPGs out there on multiple systems, honestly I have not had as much time to play in my adult days, which is a shame. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping the FF7 Remake can re-ignite my RPG spark, but for now I will stay cautiously optimistic about that title.
I hope you have enjoyed my personal retrospective on this entry into the vast Final Fantasy franchise. What were your memories of this game like? Be sure to continue reading our articles this week as Final Fantasy week continues on!