Final Fantasy VII: Brings Back Memories

Let’s talk about Final Fantasy VII, which recently came out for The Switch

[Truth: The only games I have actually bought for my switch aside from Fire Emblem Warriors, are old school Final Fantasy games].

Final Fantasy VII came out in 1997 for PlayStation. I was barely in high school when it came out. I think it might’ve even been one of the first games we got for our PlayStation since we bought a PlayStation a bit after it came out. It used to be three CDs long. It’s crazy that there used to be a time when games came on multiple CDS, when in today’s world, you can just download games to a system via the internet and buy huge SD cards to store them all.

SPOILERS FROM HERE [though I assume if you’re reading this review, you’re probably vaguely familiar with the game, and the OMG HUGE SPOILER that I’ll be referring to.].

Final Fantasy VII was my first foray into fanfiction. I don’t remember quite how it happened. I just remember browsing the dial-up internet when my family was asleep, after coming back from a night out at Starbucks with my BFFLS from high school [before Starbucks was mainstream popular and attracted a more artistic crowd] and I somehow found this fanfiction story on the interwebs. It was written on several angelfire or geocities webpages that were connected to each other with fanart, and it was about an alternate world Final Fantasy VII- where everyone split up before the City of the Ancients, and instead of [SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!] Sephiroth killing Aeris/Aerith [she’ll always be Aeris to me because that’s how it was on the US translation], she convinced him to travel to find Jenova, and the entire story is a love triangle between our protagonist Cloud Strife and our antagonist Sephiroth, who are both deeply in love with our flower girl. It probably wasn’t even a good fanfiction story, but I sat there all night and read every single chapter that was posted and checked the website weekly until the story was finished. That’s literally the only Final Fantasy fanfiction I’ve ever read, but that story opened that door to me, and paved the way for my Harry Potter fanfiction obsession later in life.

Anyways, moving on..

This IS NOT my first rodeo, I’ve had Final Fantasy VII for PS, the PSP, PS3, and Steam, and now I have it for my Switch.

Gameplay is pretty much the same as it was on other systems. I would say the only confusing thing is that the original PS button combinations you use for things like acquiring Tifa’s Final Heaven, The Rocket at Rocketown, and piloting the Highwind and Submarine, or snowboarding and riding the motorcycle are completely different than they used to be, and it can be a little confusing and/or frustrating at times if you’re so used to the way the game used to be.  Other than that, it’s pretty much “A” does everything.

Final Fantasy VII is also full of minigames, and I’ve never really liked most of those minigames to begin with. I found most of the minigames extremely frustrating to play, moreso than they used to be because the buttons were all different than they used to be. If you’re new to this game, that probably won’t be much of a problem because you have no history with the game, but if you’re someone like me, who played this game on so many different systems with the same button combinations, it might frustrate you immensely. The minigames are forced on you, some of them don’t have an impact on your main game, but others sort of fuck up your game if you fuck them up… like getting the huge materia in the submarine game on disc 2, if you fuck that up or run out of time, you’re forced to either continue on without huge materia, or restart the game numerous times until you finally shoot down the enemy submarine. Or in the motorcycle game, if you suck at riding that motorcycle and your car keeps getting hit by the motorcyclists that you can’t hit, your team loses HP before a semi-main battle. There are also a decent amount of timed challenges that are a part of the main-game, and sometimes those are very much a pain in the ass.  But again, I PERSONALLY dislike most minigames, so this is just my opinion.

The magic system is different too. You gather materia through the game, either finding it through gameplay or buying it in town, and most weapons/armor have materia slots. There are different types of materia. Summon materia summons familiar Guardian Forces/Aeons/etc like Ifrit, Shiva, Bahamut, etc. Magic materia either casts recovery magic like cure or life or attack magic like lightning and fire. It also has status effect materia like poison and sleep, for example. Command materia is things like steal or throw. Support materia works best when paired with another materia, for example, all allows a person to cast a spell on multiple targets. Independent materia is things like a counter attack, long range attack, etc. Materia also affects your HP [the more you have equipped, the lower your HP will be, the exception being stuff like HP Plus], but it might boost a different stat. Anyone can use any materia in the game, so it’s up to you how you want to use your materia, and materia goes up levels with the AP points earned in battle. Once a materia is mastered, a new one is born, at the lowest level.

Graphics have not aged well,  at all. The backgrounds are just painted backgrounds and the character models are 3D models, and they just look very aged, and very bad. The graphics have definitely not aged well. I think the nostalgia factor worked better for Final Fantasy IX, but Final Fantasy VII just looks old. However, I assume most people are playing the switch version for the nostalgia factor, so that probably doesn’t bother them very much. The game is still a good game, just don’t expect it to look like a modern game. The cut-scenes are also not the best in the world, but considering the game came out in 1997, everything was so advanced and awesome for its time, just time has passed, and modern games and graphics have usurped old-school games like FFVII because of all the advances in technology. However, I also tend to play on my computer monitor, as opposed to the Switch itself, and I’m sure the aged graphics aren’t as noticeable on the actual Switch like they are on a thirty something inch monitor, where they look extremely grainy and blurry and just dated.

The Soundtrack is still an awesome soundtrack. It was also composted and arranged by Nobuo Uematsu, who is a master of Final Fantasy Soundtracks. So many tracks from FFVII are still some of the best tracks in JRPG music, as well as when compared to all other soundtracks. When Distant Worlds tours, they play a lot of music from FFVII. Some of the highlights include:

 

 

True Story, when I was in college, I used to get to school really early because I was a commuter, and the commuter’s parking lot would get filled really fast, and I wanted a good parking space. I would hang in my school’s coffee shop until whatever class I had first started and there was a piano in the coffee shop. Occasionally, this guy would come into the coffee shop and he’d just randomly play Final Fantasy music on the piano, mostly from FFVII, and I loved those days. There’s just always been something very soothing about music from Final Fantasy VII. It truly has one of the best soundtracks of all Final Fantasy games, in my opinion, though FFIX is a very close contender.

The switch release of FFVII does have the same music glitch that the PC Port has and that FFIX has.  Basically, when you enter a battle, the background music doesn’t save your place, so when you finish the battle, the same background track just restarts itself, so you basically hear the same parts of the same tunes over and over again. I didn’t really notice it that much on FFVII, however it was really noticeable and irksome when I played FFIX. But the bug is there.

The Characters are pretty well known throughout the JRPG world, especially when most of them have made cameos in Kingdom Hearts games. Cloud Strife is our hero, he’s a mercenary. Tifa is a martial arts artist. Aeris/Aerith is a flower girl, who has very high magic skill [trust me, put some attack materia on her, and watch her kick major ass with magic, she’s NOT just a healer]. Barrett has a gun-arm. Red XIII is a combination of a dog and lion. Cait Sith is a giant mechanical moogle/cat. Cid is a pilot, and basically a dragoon knight. Vincent shoots a rifle. Yuffie is a ninja.

And of course, the most notorious and well-known bad-guy in Final Fantasy history is Sephiroth.

Unpopular Opinion, but I think A LOT of FFVII is overrated. I’m not saying it’s a bad game, I just think other entries in the series are just as good, if not better than Final Fantasy VII. It was definitely a game-changer as JRPGS go, for the time it came out, and I can appreciate the sorts of things it did for the video-game world of the late 90s, it definitely had a huge impact on the gaming industry, at the time, but overall, as a game, I think Final Fantasy VII is overrated.  I think other Final Fantasy games, more specifically IX and X are better games overall. But again, this is just my opinion.

The Story is more relevant now than I think it was back in the 90s.  The story is quite dystopian. You start in a polluted world that’s overrun by poverty except for that top 5% of people. The Shinra company destroys the Earth by digging for Mako, which is a river of energy that courses through the planet… Think of it sort of like a physical representation of heaven? In the beginning of the game, Barrett and his team destroy the reactors that use Mako to help power the planet basically, but by extracting the Mako from the Earth, ecosystems and the environment are completely destroyed- think global warming basically. The games does move on from there, and then like all final fantasy games, it becomes a question of a person’s existence, identity, and the meaning of life. I won’t say anything more than that because I enjoyed all the WTFS throughout the story and think everyone else should experience those same WTFS as the game progresses.

I don’t really think that overall, there’s a lot of negative things about this game.

The encounter rate is much better in FFVII when compared to the switch port of Final Fantasy IX.

The game does sort of level up characters you haven’t used by the time you get to the end of the game. It’s not an equal level to the characters that are mainly used, but it’s not too bad. Like for example, my lead character is almost at level 60, and the weakest character is in the mid-40s at the same point in the game, so yes they are weaker than the characters you choose to use, but the different isn’t as drastic as it is in Final Fantasy IX, when my main party was at level 30 and the rest were barely at level 20.

There are missable items as with every game, and I recommend using a walkthrough to make sure you don’t miss anything missable. I think that one is one of the better walkthrough and it’s been updated through the PS4 release of the game, so it’s pretty current. There are also a lot of side quests, some that add things to the game [chocobo racing/breeding- looking at you], hidden characters, and some that don’t really add much to the game, but are there if you’re a completionist.

There are a few bugs with the switch port. I’ve already mentioned the music bug. I’ve also had my game freeze before for no reason, and that’s sort of a more common bug, so make sure you save, at every opportunity you get, and even in multiple save files because there are glitches throughout the game such as the save crystal glitch in the Northern Crater.

Like I’ve said, the graphics look really dated in comparison to games now-a-days, but know that going into a playthrough of the game, and expect it, and it’ll be fine.

The switch version is nothing special. It doesn’t really bring anything new that any of the other ports didn’t have, but it is nice to have the game on a travel-sized console.

Overall, Final Fantasy VII is a pretty epic game in the final fantasy series. It is not my favorite game. It’s not my favorite game because I feel like the later games had better stories, more relateable characters, and better gameplay. I found myself much more invested in the plots of Final Fantasy VIII, Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy X, and Final Fantasy XIII, for example. And also as games go, I really don’t find Final Fantasy VII much of a challenge, I’ve literally beaten it in a week and my team is pretty overpowered.  I just find myself more invested in other games than Final Fantasy VII. I like the challenge of playing and this game has never been much of a challenge to me, but especially now, it just seems easy in comparison to later games. But this is just my opinion, and I realize it might be an unpopular opinion, but that’s life.

 

But even I can admit that it’s an important game. It’s definitely worth playing, whether you’re a longtime fan looking for nostalgia [and/or killing time for the remake they’ve been teasing for years] or a newcomer, who just wants to check out the game for the first time. I do recommend it.

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