It’s funny, you know: many of those that grew up with Final Fantasy VII, or were first introduced to the series on the Playstation with Cloud and his partners from AVALANCHE, never understood why the 16-bit predecessor Final Fantasy VI was a big deal. After all, where were the computer graphic cut scenes, or the detailed 32-bit backgrounds, presented in a somewhat isometric style? The SNES didn’t have the same horsepower, and due to heavy marketing by Squaresoft that showed off the then-impressive cut scenes involving Cloud, Aeris and the villainous Sepiroth, the game was a hit “" the biggest Final Fantasy success at that point as well as the biggest since. It was hard to argue with that, even for the early adopters who knew that FFVI, on the strength of its wonderful narrative, fantastic characterization, its heavy flirting with more open-ended, western styled role-playing games combined with traditional Japanese elements and its steampunk aesthetic, was the superior title, 16-bits or not.

I say that it’s funny, because now that Final Fantasy VII has released on the Playstation Network store, available to play on either your PS3 or your PSP, a new generation of gamers that grew up in the 128-bit era and have already had a taste of HD gaming may wonder why it was such a big deal. Even with the cut scenes, it sports a much more cartoony, sprite-like look to it than the games that followed “" the kind of thing that many jaded gamers would refer to as “kiddie.” If you don’t believe me, check out some of the thoughts around the Internet every time a 3D DS RPG comes out sporting a chibi look. The innovations it brought are not as apparent all these years later for those who are unfamiliar with the game, but have played the titles that were heavily influenced by it.

This is a long-winded way of saying that Final Fantasy VII, for all of its wonderful moments, shows its age when you play it today. That doesn’t make it a bad game though “" it’s still one of the best Final Fantasy titles, even taken out of context, due to a few memorable characters, both good and bad, as well as a well-done, though occasionally convoluted, story. Don’t let its looks fool you, as it’s still one of the best RPG experiences money can buy, more than a decade later. It just may not have that same “wow” factor that it did when you first popped a CD into your PSX last decade, at least for new gamers.

The beautiful soundtrack is still there, as are all of those summons, Limit Breaks, and the Materia system that many fans love. Cloud, Tifa, and all the rest still have intriguing back stories, and unless you religiously play the game each year, going through the quest to experience everything again is worthwhile. There is plenty I have forgotten about in the game that returned to me along with loads of nostalgia, which is a good feeling to have. There’s certainly enough here that those new to the series can also enjoy the story, as long as they are willing to look past the cracks in the game’s once seemingly flawless armor.

But, just like 32-bit generation gamers should have given earlier Final Fantasy titles like IV and VI a chance (then titled II and III), those who never played FFVII should give this a spin, because there’s a fascinating piece of gaming history here for you to experience. No one is asking you to pay upwards of $80-100 on eBay for the game either, since you can now get it for just $10 on PSN.

I’m purposely avoiding a “proper” review for this gem, because I don’t think it needs it. Its history and legacy should sell the game on its own, and that’s coming from one of those crazy people that thinks Final Fantasy VI is the absolute pinnacle of the series. If you have played Final Fantasy VII before and loved it, download it for a nostalgic run through your past. If you have never played it, but enjoy RPGs, then download it, because it is certainly worth your time, especially for just $10. Go see what all the fuss is about, and take on Shinra and Sepiroth.

About The Author

Marc Normandin was gaming editor of Blast from 2008 to mid-2010. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter @Marc_Normandin

9 Responses

  1. Stephen Greenwell

    Just a warning: Spoilers! Two of them, in fact, and they are huge.



    After reading a book on Alfred Hitchcock, I think part of the immense success of FF7 is due to three great narrative events:

    1) The motorcycle escape from Shinra HQ. This happens within the first five hours of the game, if I recall correctly, and it’s the first “this is cool” moment I ever had with FMV.

    2) The death of Aeris toward the end of Disc 1. One of the most effective uses of FMV in a game ever. Has anyone who’s seen it forgot it? Even more than the other two things I’ve cited, it’s the undeniable, unforgettable “event” of FF7.

    3) The reveal on Cloud’s past, which I think is still clever now. Throughout the game, you almost have to wonder if he’s psychotic from the SOLDIER serum, if Sephiroth is lying, etc. I thought it was sneaky clever to have him actually be there, but as a bit player (one of the blue soldiers) that no one would consider his role as.

    • Marc Normandin

      Agreed, though I think how those events were presented is at least as important, if not more, than the events themselves. The intro video to the motorcycle scene is the key–the same kind of chase/fight off the bad guys thing had appeared in some vein in both Chrono Trigger and FFVI, and even in Super Mario RPG, another Squaresoft title.

      As for Aeris, everyone remembers because of the cutscene–there have been plenty of other Final Fantasy deaths that came before Aeris, but having it via FMV brought things to life so to speak. There were plenty of emotional deaths as far back as Final Fantasy IV (boy, that game is depressing if you think about it) and in FFVI. I’m not arguing against the power of that moment, even today, because it’s unforgettable and defining as you said, and it showed the world that video games were more than jumping on the heads of Goombas (no offense, Mario). It’s just that the way it is shown is more important than the event itself.

      I can’t argue with the reveal on Cloud’s past. That was excellent, and holds up with the best of Square’s narrative tricks through the years. It was as shocking as the midpoint of FFVI and the major twist in FFIV. I think if they had followed their own history with the “big secret” in FFX by holding on to it a little longer, I would have felt more emotionally impacted by it, rather than just annoyed at knowing throughout the game.

      • Stephen Greenwell

        Focusing on the death aspect IV for a second, I think the deaths are lessened a bit because of how frequently your party members change. By the time you’re finally getting used to a character, they leave. The exceptions would be Cecil and Rydia (two long stints).

  2. Jonathan Parkhurst

    Um, Stephen. Way to unleash two of the biggest spoilers in the game. Believe it or not there are people out there who have not played this game.


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