20 Years Ago Today: Final Fantasy VII


There’s something really unique about the Final Fantasy series that wouldn’t work alone in any other medium. Just from a modern cinema perspective, its post-industrial punk science fiction setting and diverse cast of characters would be greeted with reluctance from market experts pre-Guardians of the Galaxy’s release.

Luckily, it was a game, and here we are. With the 20th anniversary of Final Fantasy VII, fans and gamers alike are waiting with baited breath for the next piece of news on the remastered re-release of the classic game. 

Final Fantasy VII was the game that brought many of us the anime trope of giant swords wielded by slender looking protagonists, and probably Joss Whedon-esque main character deaths before they became popularized through Firefly, and later Game Of Thrones and The Walking Dead. FFVII was the catalyst in making this game series last 15 instalments and counting.

Almost every JRPG made since FFVII plays off it in one way or another. Want to know where the angst-ridden teenager/young adult that looks like they walked out of a boy band photoshoot came from? Gigantic summoned monsters pulling an attack that could bring about the destruction of the universe? Look no further, this game is one of the main perpetrators of those videogame/anime stereotypes. From Cloud’s gigantic sword to Cait Sith’s Totoro-like appearance, everyone had a character they could relate to, and eventually cosplay as.

These are not game renders…

What makes this game deserve the attention it has enjoyed over 20 years? Seriously? Surely games like Chrono Trigger, with its wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey storyline that means multiple endings for the game, or Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, considered by many (but mostly me) to have one of the best turn-based RPG systems ever, deserve as much attention? The comment section is below Final Fantasy Tactics fans. Come at me! Chrono Trigger definitely built a better world…

Albeit being huge fan favourites and having their own respective places in videogame history, those two games do not hold the same amount of nostalgia as FFVII.

Perhaps it was the simplicity within the game – if you can even make an RPG game simple. Not to look down on the variety of weapons within the game, but compared to other Final Fantasy entries that preceded it, it felt like it was missing the customization present in those games.

Another reason FFVII still resonates today is its North American and European following. Before the game’s release, RPGs and JRPGs were big in Japan. They did not enjoy the popularity that Mario, Sonic, and more action-packed games enjoyed in the West. Even today, only games from big developers like Square Enix and Atlus ever really get attention when they release titles from “safe” franchises like Persona, Kingdom Heartsand of course, Final Fantasy.

FFVII’s introduction to a Western audience was not an overnight thing, however. This game is the seventh of a franchise and its success was due to the building fanbase behind the series. With the perfect combination of working with Sony and their new PlayStation console and the chance to innovate and bring the Final Fantasy franchise to 3D gaming, FFVII was ready to join the list of greatest video games ever made from the beginning. It brought thousands of new JRPG fans into the fold and would later influence many of the games from the franchise. It would eventually lead to a movie flop that had nothing to do with any of the games, and some characters being featured in Kingdom Hearts, alongside Mickey Mouse. Not even Mario, the one videogame persona whom at one point was more popular than The Mouse, has been able to do that.

FFVII remains an important part of the Japanese RPG market and the upcoming remake will probably bring more new fans into the fold. I, for one, look forward to summoning Bahamut in full HD. Imagine the following video in the quality of the trailer that we saw in the beginning of this piece…

12248719_10153649901607777_25033234_nEnrico and his cat, Oswin, are always looking for new games to play when not worrying about the Red Sox season. A former Montreal resident, he now lives in Toronto eating all their Korean bbq.
Twitter: @ejpalisoc

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