Final Fantasy VII is a love story between the planet and its inhabitants. It kicks off when environmentalists are pushed to bombing a mega corporation that is making a profit by sucking the life out of the planet. January 31st marks its 20th anniversary and over the course of two decades, this massively overrated game has spawned multiple canonical spinoffs that have contributed to Square Enix's ascension as one of the biggest video game companies out there.

Whether you love or hate Final Fantasy VII, there's no denying the massive impact it has had within the game industry. Personally, I love this game, and looking back after playing it recently, I can see where all the praise comes from.


Characters

The characters are interesting and relatable. Kids who grew up playing the game might find themselves in Barret's position. No, I'm not talking about being the leader of a terrorist group and bombing multibillion-dollar infrastructures; I'm talking about raising a child as a single parent with a limited budget, forcing you to split your income between your child's welfare and hiring mercenaries to help you in your divine ecological crusade.

If you look between the lines and observe each character, you will find that they have far more depth than you are initially led to believe. Though Cloud's plot twist was quite brilliant and Aerith was pretty much the central character for a while, the other characters were also given a good amount of time in the spotlight.

From Red XIII's spirituality, to Cid's dreams to go to the moon, to the reason behind Yuffie's hoarding of Materia, to Vincent's connection to the Turks, and even Sephiroth himself, all the side stories were essential to the main game and filled in the gaps, resulting in a stronger and more vibrant story.

Even Cait Sith's own tiny plot twist was interesting in its own way, even though his character arc had little to do with the overall game. If there is something that the remake will change from the original, I hope it is the development of Reeve.

And for the record, Cloud was never an emo in the video games. He was a jackass, sure, but he was never an emo. You folks must be thinking about mama boy Sephiroth. 


Mini-Games

Throughout the game you are forced to play a couple of mini-games. Reaching the Shinra Building and then sneaking into the topmost floor, escaping the city via motorcycle ride, taking a shortcut down a mountain by snowboarding, there were a slew of mini-games that added reasons to play Final Fantasy VII.

These quick breaks from the main game added a strong value that adds to the game's overall replayability. Unlike other Final Fantasy games where you have to literally spend five ten-hour in-game days to collect one crafting material for the best sword (Final Fantasy XII), or tediously dodge lightning bolts or participate in annoying chocobo races (Final Fantasy X), these mini-games weren't intrusive; they were part of the main game.

And if you wanted to relive these moments, that's what the Golden Saucer is for.

  • Fort Condor
    • One of the more interesting mini-games is defense of Fort Condor, where you could spend money to hire warriors and build defensive traps which will prevent monsters from breaching the fort. Square had a few good ideas in here and I wish it had been more developed. Maybe in the remake, perhaps.

  • Chocobos
    • Chocobo racing and breeding were two of the greatest achievements that any Final Fantasy game ever accomplished. As a whole, it was a mini-game on the grandest scale possible, sending you on a journey from one corner of the world to the next as you hunt down and breed the finest chocobos that allow you to traverse areas even your airship cannot.

    • Part of the breeding process is to spend hours racing these chocobos to make them stronger and increase your chances of obtaining a golden chocobo. With a golden chocobo, you can literally go anywhere in the game's world map, allowing you to reap all the rewards of your hard work.


Discreetness

Yoshinori Kitase, Final Fantasy VII's game director, wanted to be a film director, yet was fascinated by the idea of video games as a storytelling medium. If you are an avid of books, you will know that master storytellers hide small clues and hints everywhere. This is where I believe Kitose succeeded.

For instance, in an early part of the game where Tifa asks Cloud if he slept well, you get to respond with the option "Next to you, who wouldn't?". This implies something between the two characters. The same can be said when Aerith offers Cloud a date in exchange for hiring him as her bodyguard. Even the way Cid yells at his wife and how afraid she is of him gives us pause to consider whether or not he is a wife-beater.

These tiny controversial things make the stories in the game far more interesting than flat out explaining everything in an obvious manner.

Exploration

There was a lot to explore in the world of Final Fantasy VII. Islands and massive stretches of lands with tiny points-of-interest scattered here and there comprised majority of the world map, containing areas that can only be reached through airship and chocobo. But even after exploring everything on land, there is a whole underwater ecosystem that was explorable via submarine.

The Main Story

The 90s was a time when JRPGs attempted to deliver excellent narratives. Some of these games delivered novel-quality stories and Final Fantasy VII is part of that list. The story simply gets bigger the farther you get into it. Sure, it's still about saving the world, fighting an evil corporation, and features a chosen one, but it is everything in-between that defies normal video game storytelling. The plot twists, the aliens, the planet itself getting pissed, Final Fantasy VII had a lot of unique ideas that no game before it ever had.

Conclusion

I might have missed out on a few things. The music was kickass, having the most action-oriented battle theme and boss music which, in my opinion, has tied up with Final Fantasy VI.

Simply put, to say that the scope of Final Fantasy VII was epic is an understatement; it's much bigger than any of its spinoffs put together. The game's dialogue isn't even dry, as characters like Barret and Red XIII banter with one another. It's just a game with a lot of stories to tell and with a bunch of awesome stuff to do in it. 






About the author: Jonathan Kevin Castillo

Jonathan is hiding from a lynch mob after messing with the wrong basketball team. His favorite song is "Boys do Fall in Love" by Robin Gibb.


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