Final Fantasy VII

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Final Fantasy VII

Post by JaySevenZero »

Here's where you can leave your thoughts regarding Final fantasy VII for possible inclusion in the podcast when it's recorded.

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Re: 350: Final Fantasy VII

Post by lowestformofwit »

I feel I almost lost my job in the nineties because of FFVII. From the moment the sector 7 plate fell and killed all those innocent people I was hooked and I couldn't stop playing as I wanted to know how the story would develop. I played for long periods each night until silly hours in the morning and this affected my professional performance at work the next day.

This game sparked my interest for strong narrative-led titles (to this day) and the Final Fantasy series in general.

I didn't lose my job in the end and I very much no longer work at that company but yeah, lessons kids. I was young and immature in the 90s but so much more responsible now...

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Re: 350: Final Fantasy VII

Post by Madsocks »

Funnily enough I am currently playing this back at the moment via the PS4 platform. I remember vividly when this game came out. My college coursework suffered immensely thanks to this game but it was well worth it. Thinking about it, I think I completed it once and that's all. My current playback consists of grinding, grinding and more grinding.

Gameplay wise, the first section of the game felt so long winded, yet I couldn't tear myself away from it. The beginning when you blow up the Sector 5 reactor in Midgar, the aftermath in the Sector 7 slums, meeting Aeries, the horrible horrible act that Shinra perpetrated by blowing up the upper city, rushing Shinra HQ, and then finally escaping Midgar and getting access to the World Map. That's when it started to pick up.

And it wasn't just the main questline you had to get involved with, it was herding chocobo's, looking for the competition flyers, and my favourite location, the Gold Saucer. There was just so much to do on this game, it was ridiculous, yet provided weeks and months of fun.

Nobou Uematsu's musical score was just perfection, and it still resides on my MP3 player to this day. The characters had their own backstories, and the idea to rename them when you first meet was great, but I never did.

This is without doubt one of my favourite games of all time and arguably one of the greatest games that have ever been made. Unlike FFVIII and FFIX, I don't think I will ever get tired of this game.

Just don't get me started on what happens to Aerith........

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Re: 350: Final Fantasy VII

Post by Alex79uk »

This was the first Final Fantasy, or indeed the first J-RPG that I ever played. And what an incredible introduction to the genre it was. In a way, it almost spoiled other games for me for a good while after. I borrowed Final Fantasy VII from a friend of my brothers who had dismissed it as 'rubbish', but after reading reviews in the gaming press at the time, my interest was most definitely piqued. I was spellbound right from the introduction, the camera panning through Midgar, giving you a glimpse of the world you would spend hours exploring. I loved the way it threw you right in to the action, as Cloud jumped from the train right in to battle. Those first few hours were amazing, I really felt like I was playing one small part of a band of outlaws, renegades fighting for their city.

So many great memories - discovering all the different summon creatures, developing materia to it's uppermost levels and selling them for a ridiculous amount of gil, riding motorbikes and snowboards, but one of the best in-game distractions for me was breeding the Chocobo's. My girlfriend and I had a game guide, and spent hour upon hour trying to breed the holy grail - a golden Chocobo! We finally managed it, and used it to navigate to the area whereupon we could collect Cloud's ultimate limit break attack. We were unstoppable!

The game had a brilliant cast of characters, including several easily missed. The rocket enthusiast Cid, the vampiric Vincent, and the cheeky scamp from the forest, Yuffie. Even though I'd regularly rotate the characters through my team, my main crew were always Barret and Red XIII.

Whenever people talk about Final Fantasy VII, someone will always mention the death of Aeries, and how it brought a tear to their eye. Well, the game did actually make me well up at one point, but it wasn't then. No, what really got me was when Barret returned to his village later in the game to find it destroyed, and everyone blames him. Don't know why, for some reason that just got me.

If I'm being honest (and I am), I can't really remember much of what the story was about. I remember the ultra-cool Sephiroth being a badass, and something about saving the world, but I do remember the game immediately leapt to 'my favourite game of all time' status on completing it.

It's an absolutely magnificent game, and one I so wish I had time to fully replay. I'm cautiously looking forward to the remake, but however good it may or may not be, it'll never capture the feeling I got from the original. It's a game that really sparked my love of Japanese Role Playing Games, and it came at just the right time in my life that I could afford to give it the love and attention it deserved. It'll always have a special place in my heart.

THREE WORD REVIEW : Truly special game.

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Re: 350: Final Fantasy VII

Post by TheEmailer »

I was too young when this came out, so came back to it post FF8 and FF9.
One thing I wanted to say, whilst the story is interesting, the writing of dialogue in this game is frequently atrocious. However, this is rarely acknowledged, whereas the same issue is used to beat FF8 with.

Anyway, many many people will have more insightful things to say on this game so I'll leave it to them. Just wanted to post in case the hosts ended up talking about dialogue.

(disclosure, FF8 was my first RPG so I'm not sure I can be truly impartial!)

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Re: 350: Final Fantasy VII

Post by TheProf »

I originally played this game around the time it came out. I had played some previous RPGs but more in the action RPG genre - the likes of Secret of Mana, Illusion of Time and Secret of Evermore. As such a lot of the concepts introduced to me in this game were new and confusing. Random battles and the ATB system took some getting used to, and the amount of equipment you could gather with all its differing stats blew my mind.

Of course what drew me in (as I suspect drew many other in also) were the cutscenes, which at the time I had seen nothing like. Looking back now it seems bizarre that they were such a draw considering how rudimentary they appear (even compared to Final Fantasy VII's successor), but of course hindsight is always 20/20. To be honest I didn't enjoy the gameplay much at the time and only continued playing to make it to the next cutscene and see what for the time was an amazing visual display. I didn't have a clue what was happening in the story, but by God those cutscenes looked pretty!

Fast forward to now and I recently finished another play through of the game. To my's one of my favorites ever. I don't have a lot of time for RPGs these days, but a friend wanted to do a play through and I said I would join her so we could share stories. What a great experience! As a more seasoned gamer I understood the mechanics much better allowing me to enjoy the random battles and focus on the story. And what a great tale is told. I love the themes of environmentalism, the fine line between terrorism and rebellion, reproduction, life and death and everything is woven into a surprisingly mature plot. I highly recommend playing through with a friend if possible because it's great to share knowledge of the systems and the twists and turns of the plot as the game progresses.

A mention also must be made of the outstanding soundtrack and the great in game visuals which all come together to provide a truly memorable experience - I even like the blocky character models! I know it's a cliche to say that Final Fantasy VII is your favorite, but after playing VI, IX, X, XII and XIII I can confidently say that it is.

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Re: 350: Final Fantasy VII

Post by shadowless_kick »

Final Fantasy VII has the dubious honor of being the origin of my passionate spoiler-evasion tendencies. Well before the game hit the U.S., while surfing a gaming message board via my Netscape browser, I stumbled on a sound file someone posted from the game entitled "Aerith Death Theme."

That really sucked.

But I soldiered on, determined to enjoy the experience as much as I could. I'd never been into RPGs, and prior to FFVII, the only one I owned and played through was Chrono Trigger, which remains a personal favorite. Aside from getting swept up in the zeitgeist, FFVII intrigued me with its very un-RPG-like industrial aesthetic. That, and I found Testuya Nomura's artwork quite cool at the time. (However, I must say that coming to Japan and seeing the host club staff members that prowl the back alleys of Shinjuku make it impossible to look at spiky haired protagonists like Cloud and Noctis the same way ever again. If you care about the FF series, don't do it to yourself!)

To be honest, I don't have much to say about the game itself. I played it, enjoyed it, and then moved on. Aside from the soundtrack, it didn't leave much of a lasting impression on me, and I haven't played a Final Fantasy game since.

Given its impact at the time of its release, I understand why people are excited for a remake. For me, though, once was probably enough.

PS- Shout out to Tobal No. 1, which most people likely bought purely for the FFVII demo, but was a genuinely fun and innovative fighter/dungeon crawler that deserved more recognition. And Tobal 2 ?? Don't even get me started...

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Re: 350: Final Fantasy VII

Post by rob25X »

Ah, Final Fantasy VII... one of my favourite games of all time.

I still think of it often, even 20 years or so later yet I have little desire to go back to play it (PS1 original or other versions). Don't get me wrong, Final Fantasy VII was, and probably still is one of the best RPGs there is but for me it's like all games in the Final Fantasy series (pre-HD) best in it's time and hasn't aged well. One thing about Final Fantasy VII that remains timeless for me is the soundtrack, which I still listen to regularly.

Why do I say FF7 has aged badly? Final Fantasy X improved a lot (visually, bringing in voice acting etc.), Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children showed how FF7 needed to be updated visually and remade and Crisis Core, Dirge of Cerberus, Chocobo Racing and all the spin-off games ruined Final Fantasy a bit by taking it in too many directions. I've since played XIII and XIII-2 for over 200 hours each and connect myself with them more now than with any of the older games. Also other games have made a big impact since FF7 such as Shenmue, The Elder Scrolls, the Fallout games etc.

Would I like to play the original PS1 Final Fantasy VII today, not really, Would I like to play a Final Fantasy VII remake on PS4? Absolutely. Whether the magic of Final Fantasy VII could be reignited in 2018 I'm not sure. maybe they've left it too late.

An amazing game in it's day. A timeless soundtrack and a true work of art. 10/10 in it's day but unfortunately not the same game in 2018.

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Re: 350: Final Fantasy VII

Post by Beastwood »

I don't think any game has had the cultural impact that final fantasy 7 has. It was truly a phenomenon and holds a special nostalgic place in many people's hearts. I had never played an jrpg before this... Nor had I ever wanted to. For me and many other British kids this was the moment that all changed. I couldn't even get past the first boss initially, the gameplay was so alien to me. Through word of mouth and 5th hand guides I improved and eventually managed to topple sephiroth and save the world. Having played it for maybe the 20th time last year I realised it would be impossible for me to give this game an objective review. The music... The characters... Story... They are so ingrained in my psyche that I could never wring the warm feelings of nostalgia from cold facts. Sure this game has its daft moments or dull gameplay sections. It isn't perfect or the best game ever. But for a beautiful moment in the late 90s this game started something special in the west that hadn't been there before. For that I believe it deserves all the accolades, the spin offs, movies, remakes, YouTube documentaries. I have seen some cynical analysis in recent times but maybe you just had to be there to feel it? What a feeling that was.

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Re: 350: Final Fantasy VII

Post by ashman86 »

I felt the impact of Final Fantasy VII's existence long before I ever actually got to play it. As a kid, my dad and I would sometimes while away the time by browsing the Media Play (a now-defunct chain of retail stores here in the states) down the street. We typically didn't plan to buy anything, but the internet wasn't what it is now, and finding a new release in the store always felt exciting and special.

I remember a massive poster hanging high up at the back of the store of Cloud, his buster sword drawn, gazing up at a Mako reactor. That's probably my earliest memory of the game, now that I'm thinking about it.

Eventually, a friend invited me over to his house and, shocked as he was that I'd never played a Final Fantasy game or anything he'd deem a proper JRPG, sat me down at his Playstation to check out Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy Tactics, and a few other console-exclusives. They were only cursory playthroughs, but I was immediately enamored with the narrative approach the Final Fantasy games took.

Although the game got a port to the PC, I didn't actually play it until years later, after I'd already finished and fallen in love with Final Fantasy 8 (also on the PC). There isn't much to say about the game that hasn't already been said, although I'm sure my experience was at least somewhat unique in that I don't know how many others played the game on the original PC port. You controlled the game using the num pad on your keyboard, and you ran by holding the 0 key. My thumb still has a callus from the 100s of hours I spent on the game.

FF7 is seminal, that much is certain. It's a juggernaut in the world of not just JRPGs, but the entirety of video gaming. It's a game whose impact can't be understated, but it also will never be able to live up to its own legacy. I've seen younger gamers go back to 7 expecting something mind-blowing only to walk away feeling disillusioned. They don't understand why it was--why it *is*--special, and how could they?

It's a poorly translated mess of a game at times. Barret's an offensive Mr. T stereotype. The subplot about Sephiroth clones is disjointed at best. The FMV videos look like they're decades older than those we saw in FF8 just a few short years later, and the simple polygonanl character models (out of combat) clash jarringly with the serious tones of the game's story, which isn't to say they're not charming in their own way. Frankly, I'm not even sure how much new ground it breaks after its own predecessor, FF6, which had already shown how well a game could tell a story.

But it touched a generation of gamers profoundly. Maybe it was just a happy coincidence. Maybe FF7 just landed at the right time, as the PS1 was opening the gates wide open for gamers who hadn't grown up with the 16-bit consoles or were too young to appreciate FF6's storytelling. But it shaped us as gamers and, maybe, as people. Aeris's death, Red XIII howling by his petrified father, the burning of Nibelheim, the showdown with the one-winged Sephiroth: these scenes are as vivid to me as the day I played them. For us, the children of the 90s, I wonder if FF7 resonated in a way other games couldn't with its focus on taking on an industry hellbent on destroying the world for profit. Or perhaps it was in its distinctly eastern take on the afterlife for a generation of young people who were only just barely old enough to come to terms with what loss meant for them.

I'm rambling now, so I'll wrap up: Final Fantasy 7 isn't my favorite game of all time. It's not even my favorite Final Fantasy game. But I don't for a minute believe it was overrated, and I know that even now, after at least a half-dozen complete play-throughs, I could sit down and completely lose myself in the game all over again.

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Re: 350: Final Fantasy VII

Post by KSubzero1000 »

I hesitate to even post in this thread considering I don't feel entirely qualified to do so. But in the interest of having a broader gamut of opinions to choose from, I'll say that I couldn't get on with Final Fantasy VII in the ten or so hours I spent with it when playing it for the first time around 2009.

It would be very easy at this point to point out that the reason I don't like it is because I didn't play it when it first came out, but I don't think that's entirely accurate. I adore Chrono Trigger, Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War and Suikoden that all came out before FF7, and while early-polygonal graphics find it notoriously difficult to stand the test of time, it's the setting that puts me off more than anything. The latter entry Final Fantasy games are often set in futuristic environments that tend to make me depressed instead of dreamy. People shooting each other over issues involving corrupt corporations and industrial pollution certainly feels chillingly "Final" at times, but not so much like a "Fantasy". The game itself is a bit stale: The writing is nothing remarkable, the combat doesn't have any of the panache of Square's previous Chrono Trigger, and the environment is mostly composed of static backgrounds without the type of ingenious mechanical interaction that Golden Sun was able to pull off only a few years later, as far as I could tell. The music is very good, however.

It's often been said that one's first introduction to a genre often remains one's favorite later on. While the saying is usually aimed at niche genres like visual novels, strategy games (or Mario Kart), I think it also applies to JRPGs and that one major reason as to why this game became such a cultural milestone is that it captured a lot of kids' imagination by way of coming out early in the life cycle of such a popular platform, coupled with the handful of heavy narrative turns which certainly opened a lot of teary eyes to the possibilities of narrative-driven video games in a way that Tekken, Crash Bandicoot and Gran Turismo simply couldn't hope to match. But I'm not convinced it's quite the stone-cold masterpiece it's often heralded as when judged on its own merit. Although I do reserve the right to change my opinion if I ever revisit it in the future.

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Re: 350: Final Fantasy VII

Post by duskvstweak »

I played Final Fantasy VII years after it was released, yet right after my Final Fantasy VI play through. So, if the graphics were dated in 2001, I didn't notice. What I did notice was just how cool the game was. I had loved the steampunk world of VI but VII's weird cyberpunk, fantasy future was just as impressive and strange. The characters, for my taste, were fun and a bit edgier than VI's quirky characters, which suited my teenage sensibilities just fine. Plus, I had renamed each of the characters after friends and family, so there was another layer of attachment to it all. Though, I did name Aerith (Aeris) after my 8th grade crush and that proved to be a bad omen in the long run.

The game has it's shortcomings in retrospect, with it's overlong summons and dated graphics, but I still find it completely playable today and grand in scope. I have zero interest in a remake, because the goofy graphics taking everything so seriously are part of the charm.

One quick story. At the final dungeon of the game, you're given a save point that you can place anywhere. I had no clue what it was, so, I used the item, created a save point and then proceeded to save. That's when I realized that it would be my only save point and I was going to have to do the final dungeon and bosses in one go. I'm sure many people have done that and found it incredibly easy, but, back then, without the Knights summon or half the parties best limit breaks, it was a terrifying task that made beating the game even more exciting.

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Re: 350: Final Fantasy VII

Post by EvilNinjaPhil »

Final Fantasy VII is for me a tale of woe.

I initially bought FFVII on the PC, as I didn't have a PS1 when it was released. FFVII was a proper game changer, riding the PS1 boom to bring JRPGs to a much wider audience. I remember, during that PS1 release, being in the sixth form common room listening to people who I thought didn't even know what a console was talking about the best materia setup. I wanted a piece of that, but had to wait.

In Electronics Boutique it came free with the Prima Strategy Guide so I picked it up, installed it on my PC then realised that my current 3D card wasn't up to snuff. Queue a quick search through the Special Reserve catalogue, some waiting around and a fairly easy installation process and I was off to the Chocobo races.

I ended up playing it through till, I think, just before the last area then never went back to it. Not sure why, but suspect it had a lot to do with Championship Manager '98.

A year or so later, I had a PS1 and picked up a cheap copy of FFVII. The first hurdle was the look of the game; the PC version wasn't exactly 4K HDR graphics but was still a massive step up compared to the pixely PS1 graphics. But it didn't take long for that to fade away and the quality of the game to shine through; the great materia system, all the stuff to do, some of the bonkers characters. I had as great a time with it the second time as the first.

But then. There was, according to the guide, a great area to grind in. I think it's a corridor underneath a dam or something, There are some tough enemies there, which is good for farming experience and what not. So I did, for about two and a half hours. And despite that, it was fun. The battles were tough but fair, which stopped it becoming a chore.

And then it happened; for the first and only time in it's life, my PS1 crashed. It was also then that I realised that I hadn't saved in the last two and a half hours of grinding.

I got up, put the CD back in the case and, to this day, have never played the game again.

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Re: 350: Final Fantasy VII

Post by nickturner13 »

well this is it, Final Fantasy 7.

I never played any of the previous FFs and the first I heard about this game was in an episode of OPSM which i bought religiously every month from the mid 90s to around 2006.

I remember reading that you could do things in this game that you couldn't do in any other game, and being a 17yr old back in 96, the mind wandered endlessly as to what this might mean.

My brother and I got this on the PS1, day one.

At the time we'd just moved house and were still children really, 17 and 13, and this was a real bonding time. Each day after work/school we'd sit in front of the playstation in my bro's bedroom, boot up FF7, and continue the journey.

Taking turns in holding the controller, we progressed through the game. I'd mostly vocalize all the speech in the game, giving different characters appropriate voices, for example Barrett with his seemingly obvious "Mr T" type voice.

As a game, I found it fascinating, so many new ideas that were not seen before in western gaming, stemming from the whole idea of this being the first Japanese FF game translated for the west. Things such as turn-based combat I'd not seen before, and the materia system, which was fantastic.

So many great ideas in this game... I loved the story line and how escaping Midgar, which could easily be a game into itself.... became just the start of the journey.

this game was an incredible moment in gaming history.

No longer we were forced into small niches like "racing games" or "platform games" or "point and click adventures"... here came a game that had elements of everything, and was in "3D", in a way. The graphics, although primitive looking back now, were amazing at the time, and the way the game moved from live gameplay to 3D rendered cut-scenes (i.e. at the Golden Saucer) was amazing back in 97.

There was even snowboarding and betting on chocobo racing where you could even spend hours breeding the ultimate chocobo which could help you cross the oceans to help get the legendary "golden chocobo".... which was needed for the ultimate summon to help you defeat some of the massive bosses that roamed the world, and indeed the end game.

....and that's just one tiny offshoot of what the game had to offer. Hours could be spent just exploring the Sector 7 slums, and finding out so much about the world way before you left Midgar and were opened up to the world as a whole.

I mentioned worlds.... this is a game that has a whole world, including continents, that are there to be explored. Story lines to be uncovered.... I remember vividly going to Red XIII's home village and learning about his source.

The music..... the music in this game is probably the best music in any video game bar none. To this day, so many pieces from this sound track are legendary... whether it be the battle music, Sephiroth's theme, music played while exploring Midgar.... so much burned into the memory.

Undoubtedly one of the top 5, maybe top 3, video games ever made. and will always hold a very special place in my heart.

And I didn't even get round to discussing the unforgettable characters.... Tifa, Barrett, Yuffie, Vincent, and of course, Aeris....

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Re: 350: Final Fantasy VII

Post by Technikal »

There's no other piece of entertainment media that has ever quite captivated me in the same way Final Fantasy VII did.

It was my first ever Final Fantasy game, having missed them completely on the SNES and NES. Maybe it was me, but prior to FF7 I never found the series got anywhere near the same exposure in the Europe region as it had in the States and of course the Japan regions. I remember seeing screenshots of FF7 in multiple magazines alongside glowing reviews, which all shared consistent high scores and verdicts. I finally got a chance to play it when a friend lent me his copy after he had finished it.

I was absolutely, instantly hooked from the first scene. I'd never played or seen anything like it before. The world was fascinating, the characters refreshingly interesting, and it was all wrapped up with one of the greatest soundtracks that I've ever heard. I played it relentlessly, until hitting disc 2, where I found my friend's copy was scratched so badly that I couldn't continue the adventure. I waited a whole six months until I could get together to buy my own copy with my birthday money. I started it again, and this time went through the whole game over the next few months.

So many locations and areas in the game are so iconic that I can recall hundreds of different places in the world, and the story beats that went along with each location. The pre-rendered backdrops served to create an incredibly memorable variety of locations, and whilst I often cannot recall locations and moments in games I only played a year ago, FF7 is permanently burned in, despite me first playing through it twenty years ago.

It's crazy that a game holds the power to transport me back to a certain time in my life, but FF7 really can do this. It's pretty much indescribable in how highly I regard it.

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Re: 350: Final Fantasy VII

Post by Tbone254 »

Final Fantasy 7 rests firmly at number one on my list of favorite games. There is so much that I love about this game. I know this feeling isn’t universal, many feel it’s overrated, and it probably is. 20 years after its release it can be difficult to see why the game is so revered. The English translation has some issues, and many complain that the story turns into a bit of a mess. The graphics haven’t aged well. Character models are inconsistent in cut scenes, some use the blocky over-world character models and some use the more detailed combat models. Sure, all this would be a problem for me today, but back when it was released, I didn’t care. The graphics at the time were revolutionary to me, so I just assumed the graphical discrepancies were necessary. I really didn’t have any idea about the poor translation to English, sure some of it sounded a little odd to me, but it was certainly manageable. And as for the story being convoluted, a second play through cleared up most of that.

I was 14 when I was first able to play through 7. A friend of mine introduced it to me after he received it as a Christmas gift. I was awestruck. I had never seen anything like this before. Prior to this my go to games were Mario, Zelda, and a few beatem ups. Great games for sure, but none of them compared to this. Those games were simple and straight forward. 7 had a complex story with characters that had nuance and a range of emotions, and the music was like nothing I had heard before in a game.

There is a scene near the beginning of the game, right after blowing up the Sector 5 reactor, where the group splits up and agrees to rendezvous on a train back to Sector 7. As “Anxious Heart” plays in the background, you control Cloud as he walks through the slums. Everything is dirty, dingy, and worn out. There are homeless sleeping on benches, rough looking thugs walking about, walls are littered with graffiti, the cracking of arcing power lines can be heard above. This scene just oozes atmosphere. It evokes this feeling of melancholic nostalgia; a ghetto filled with a forgotten people, longing for better days and wondering how everything ever got this bad. This eventually transitions to another scene after the group meets up on the train. Barrett makes a comment about the upper plate of the city blocking out the sun and is surprised by Cloud’s comment “a floating city… pretty unsettling scenery”, that maybe Cloud isn’t as selfish as he appears to be. Barrett continues to rant about how the affluent rich that live on the plate are ruining the lives of those below. Cloud asks him why everyone just doesn’t move on to the plate, to which Barrett counters that the people are either too poor to move, or they love the land they live on and don’t want to leave it. Cloud puts to rest any romanticism about the people’s love of their land with the statement “I know…no one lives in the slums because they want too” It also gives us a little more insight into his character, that his own experiences may make him fully aware of the divide between the rich and the poor. It was this section of the game that made me fall in love with 7. There are other little conversations that happen during this time that really help sell the atmosphere as well. Like Jesse’s timid flirtation with Cloud on the train, or when Cloud encounters a certain flower girl in the street.

As I said earlier, Final Fantasy 7 is certainly not perfect, there are games that looked better, had better dialog, and even better stories, but it is my all-time favorite game (but really, a story about a planet devouring god that is trying to resurrect itself after it picked a fight with the wrong planet is pretty awesome), On the back of the CD case there is a description that perfectly sums up the game for me. “What begins as a rebellion against an evil corporation becomes much more. And what erupts goes beyond imagination”

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Re: 350: Final Fantasy VII

Post by AlexMaskill »

Alright folks, congratulations, we've finally got an episode for the greatest game ever made, the podcast can stop now. Our work is finished.

It's hard for me to consider Final Fantasy VII outside of its massive formative impact on my personal tastes and cultural touchpoints. It was the first game I ever played that truly felt like a huge, expansive other world you could get lost in, which I suspect is the case for a lot of people my age who love this game unconditionally (as I do, spoiler alert), and it owes this epic sweep to a beautifully maintained magic trick carried over from the 16-bit days and lost quickly amid increasingly detailed 3D representation - its use of abstraction.

It communicates a vast scope economically by relying on our imagination and our implicit understanding that we're not seeing a literal view into this world. This was a matter of course back when you couldn't realise a world with any amount of fidelity, and Final Fantasy VII was just a really good version of that common trick, but as something that has been totally lost in the age of high-definition visuals, full-cast voice acting and complex physics engines, it now stands out as this incredible testament to a whole other way of depicting game worlds. To this day, no other game I can think of has both the scale and richness I associate with this game's setting, for the simple reason that much of that scale and richness comes from my own imagination.

That was, again, just how you showed a game world back then, but FFVII's version is just so much more rewarding. Every unique background communicates character and place with a beautiful balance of archetype and specificity that makes its world both alien and legible (part of this is also its pervasive and literate Japanese-ness, and particularly its very Japanese take on Western dystopian fiction). It invites you to use imagination to fill in the characterisation of its cast, investing you personally in their struggles, and then toying with that connection to great effect throughout the story. This all makes the adventuring - be it the dungeon-crawling or the navigating of the game's many urban areas - engaging, charming and surprising. It was a game with secrets that were real secrets, with fully realised games within it, all done on a scale I'd never seen before.

It's all so good that it's perfectly acceptable that the combat isn't on the same level as the rest of it. A transplant from the Active Time Battle system of earlier games, it's perfectly fine and I'm sure it has a lot of depth but I just find it unexciting.

It's also worth mentioning explicitly that this game has the best original soundtrack of any game ever made.

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Re: 350: Final Fantasy VII

Post by KissMammal »

Though I had heard about games like Final Fantasy III and Front Mission during the 16 bit era in the pages of Super Play magazine, I was completely unfamiliar with the JRPG genre because so few of them had made it to the European market at the time. I got sucked in by the hype surrounding FFVII and bought the game day one, and was immediately drawn in to the steampunk setting and the distinctive looking characters, but found the quirky, turn-based battles very strange and off-putting. As funny as it is to think of now, I’d only ever really played action games up to this point where the object was always to avoid damage at all costs, so a battle system where it was often impossible to avoid getting hit instilled a kind of anxiety and discomfort in me while playing. To make matters worse, I didn’t understand the Materia system at all, and didn’t even fully grasp the concept of ‘leveling up’. As a result I basically avoided combat whenever I could by fleeing from all enemy encounters instead of fighting. Of course this eventually led to me getting completely and utterly stuck later in the game as my team were too underpowered to take on a boss (something called the ‘Materia Hunter’ IIRC) and because I had neglected to stagger my saves I couldn’t even backtrack to the nearest town to recuperate.

To my embarrassment I then went around proclaiming the game to be a load of overhyped rubbish, and it was only much later when a very close friend raved about his experience playing the game did I decide to give it a second chance (which meant restarting the game from scratch) and this playthrough is when the game not only clicked with me, it became a full blown obsession which I played constantly, whole evenings and weekends disappearing in the blink of an eye until I eventually completed it, unlocking the secret characters and breeding a golden chocobo along the way. In fact I suspect the game is partially responsible for my slightly underwhelming GCSE result due to the amount of time I spent ploughed into it when I should have been studying... The nostalgia I have for FFVII is a big part of the reason why, for all it’s quirks, I still have a lot of affection for the JRPG genre all these years later.

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Re: Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (14.12.18) - 350: Final Fantasy VII

Post by Jobobonobo »

Like many, FFVII was my introduction to the Final Fantasy series. Unlike many, I finished it just this year. I was an N64 kid growing up so I missed out on the world of JRPGS for quite some time and it was with the DS where I became acquainted with that genre. Since this series has such an immense reputation, I felt it was only right to try out an entry at some point and why not start with one of the most popular and beloved entries?

The story and setting was quite memorable to me. The design of Midgar and the Shinra building is truly iconic and travelling the world to see the damage that both Shinra and Sephiroth had bought onto locations and people’s lives really communicate the utter power of these forces you were going up against. The story moves along at a quick pace where one moment you are saving Tifa from a sleazy crime boss by crossdressing, the next you are escaping the city on motorbike with Shinra goons on your tail. The variety of locales and minigames meant that things never threatened to stay the same for too long. However, the minigames can be a mixed bunch. Snowboarding and Chocobo racing is fun enough but the Junon march was just fiddly nonsense I can do without.

I enjoyed the presentation of Sephiroth; this fanatical force of destruction whose appearance would always spell disaster wherever he went. There was always a culpable sense of dread whenever his exquisitely creepy theme played. Especially, his trail of blood and destruction through the Shinra building was a truly memorable moment in the game and an excellent way of setting up the game"s proper antagonist.

I suppose one reason why it took me so long to try out a Final Fantasy is many of the earlier entries contain my most loathed JRPG mechanic: the random battle. I feel this mechanic should have gone extinct during the SNES era so it felt antiquated even in 1997. I like to explore environments and immerse myself in a world and having it broke up constantly by the abrupt change of music and a new battle screen really takes me out of the experience. However, I slowly got used to this and the world and story sucked me in to such a degree that one of my biggest pet peeves melted away. Also, the fact that the level progression in this game is nice and fair for the most part so I never had to stop and grind at any parts also made random battles far less of a pain than I would otherwise find them.

Helping me in tolerating random battles was how fun I actually found the battle system! Using materia and customising it into different combinations always made for enjoyable experimentation. One of my favourite setups was putting HP Plus along with Counter on Yuffie. Now she can eat up extra hits and attack twice in one turn instead of one. This also has the side benefit of building up your Limit meter quickly so you can dish out one of your more powerful attacks in record time. The limit break system itself was interesting, seeing as if you are hit with a more powerful attack, the limit meter goes up quicker but get too reckless and your team member could get knocked out. It is this balancing act between staying alive and getting to perform powerful attacks that made this so compelling to me. Finding new materia and learning new limit breaks was always an exciting moment, seeing my team grow into fearsome warriors throughout the game was a true delight. My mains throughout the game were Cloud, Cid and Yuffie. As long as these three were together, I felt unstoppable.

One element of the battle system that I felt I have to bring up is the summons. While these attacks are pretty powerful and have saved my behind numerous times, the fact the summon sequence always takes so long would do my head in. Seriously, some of these were so long that I could have read and answered several emails by the time they were finished. The final battle with Sephiroth takes this to new levels; whenever a Super Nova attack appeared I not only dreaded the damage but the mini film that plays every time it is used just exasperated me. If there was an option to skip these cutscenes, I would have used summons a hell of a lot more. However, when I defeated Sephiroth by using a Bahamut Zero summon while Cloud and Yuffie were on 1 HP of health it was one of the most ecstatic victories I have had in gaming in years so I suppose it would not have been as memorable if I had just used normal attacks to take him down. Seeing how much damage I had dished out after a long cutscene while on the verge of death certainly helps add to the tension.

Now onto my most controversial opinion regarding FFVII, I quite like the graphics! Now I do not mean the pre rendered environments though I do think they look quite lovely actually. I am talking about the goofy character models. The low poly characters give them a strange PlayMobil look that I find oddly charming and honestly gives the game a real unique visual identity. Now I know these graphics were mind blowing at the time so Squaresoft definitely did not intend to go for PlayMobil people back in the day but what some consider poorly aged visuals I consider a fun, bizarre aesthetic which has come about by accident. In fact, I think the new pretty graphics that will be in the remake will take a lot of the personality out of the game for me. Seeing a blocky Barret shake his club shaped arm at Shinra is just endearing to me and gives me a newfound appreciation for the graphics of the Playstation era. By complete accident, these graphics have become timeless in such a fashion that I would not want them to look any other way.

What is in no way ironic, however, is my adoration for the music. Nobuo Uematsu did an incredible job with the composition here and this was my first game I have ever played where he did the full soundtrack; my prior exposure being the few pieces he did for Chrono Trigger. While I was familiar with the classics such as Aerith’s theme, One Winged Angel and Bombing Mission, the sheer diversity of moods and musical styles throughout the entire soundtrack has made me truly respect the immense talent of Uematsu and his contribution to music as a whole truly cannot be overstated. An absolute tour de force.

It says a lot that I had so much to talk about regarding a game that I had no nostalgia whatsoever for. I think that despite a few little niggles, Final Fantasy VII is a wonderful experience with a addictive battle system, beautiful music, unforgettable locales, fun story and memorable characters. It has gotten me to want to try out the rest of the series such as VI and IX and made me appreciate why people even to this day have such love for it. For making JRPGs mainstream alone, it will always have my gratitude.

Three word review: Save the planet!

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Re: Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (14.12.18) - 350: Final Fantasy VII

Post by Sage + Onion Knight »

Like a lot of people my age from the UK, FFVII was my first experience with the series. The small screenshot that would accompany it in the reviews list at the back of every Official PlayStation Magazine fascinated me for some reason I can't explain, and that's basically the only reason I got it (I know I was young because I remember wondering if I could be arrested for playing a game that was rated 11+).

Of course, I'm glad I did. I'm sure like a lot of people posting in this thread, I have too many memories and too much nostalgia to be anywhere near objective -- and yet, every time I replay it, I never feel disappointed. I always expect that each replay will be the point where the veil of nostalgia is lifted and I realise that it's just an old JRPG with weird Duplo sprites and some dodgy translation.

It's never happened yet, though. Every playthrough, it all comes flooding back - the atmosphere of the soundtrack (which has heavily inspired a lot of my own music), that thrill of stepping out of Midgar and into a world full of strange secrets (the sight of Emerald WEAPON swimming around the chunky-looking PS1 ocean floor is just one of my many favourite haunting and lingering images from FF7). I don't think there's much I can say about the objective experience of playing the game that won't be articulated fifteen times better by every other member of the forum, so I'll just list a few more random special memories that I associate with this game:
  • My childhood obsession with the game was such that I would often imitate the jumping animation. When I was asked to pick a number in a primary school maths class, another pupil audibly groaned when I picked "seven".
  • A huge part of my connection to this game was growing up in the early days of the Internet and being fascinated with the bizarre (and rarely true) rumours of secrets hidden within the game - many of which, of course, involved being able to revive Aeris; alongside some truly, truly odd ones (I'm sure one involved being able to unlock Cid's rocket as a vehicle to explore outer space).
  • I was mortally terrified of Sephiroth. I still hold up the Shin-Ra HQ sequence as one of my personal favourite moments in gaming, just for that truly chilling and eerie atmosphere. My fear of Sephiroth was such that I once woke up terrified, because I dreamt that I found his driving license lying on the floor.
  • The tiny reference to My Bloody Valentine's 1991 album Loveless in the game's opening, introduced me to that band and revolutionised my music taste as a teenager. It's probably worth mentioning that, coincidentally, the track 'Touched' from that album could easily sit alongside Nobuo Uematsu's soundtrack -
I could probably go on for even longer than I already have, to be honest. Essentially though, what I think is special about this game is that it shows a team at a high point both creatively and commercially. Outside of Final Fantasy's "golden age", there aren't many games that combine these blockbuster production values (for their time) with such creative boldness, ambition, and sincerity (Nier: Automata is a recent example that comes to mind). Not even my absurd character names can take that magic away.


Sorry for the ridiculously self-indulgent post!

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