With its remake getting (hopefully) closer and closer, one of the most popular and influential video games of all time, Final Fantasy VII, finally makes its way to a Nintendo console… 22 years after its initial release. I think I speak for everyone when I say that it’s officially okay for Cloud to be a fighter in Super Smash Bros. Hardcore N64 fanboys can finally rest easy – the Squaresoft betrayalton has finally come to an end.
When the buster sword wielding anime boy was originally announced as a DLC for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U I thought I was being trolled – not because a Final Fantasy character was coming to Nintendo’s flagship fighting franchise, but because this character was coming. Final Fantasy titles had a long history of being released for Nintendo consoles so it makes sense that one of their characters would eventually make it onto the jam-packed roster. The first six mainline games were released for the NES and SNES but that all changed with Final Fantasy VII.
Originally Final Fantasy VII was working towards being released on the Big N’s newest console at the time, the Nintendo 64. But then, as we all know, it didn’t release on the N64, but instead for Sony’s (at the time) hot new CD-ROM console, the PlayStation. This move essentially destroyed the great relationship between SQUARE and Nintendo leaving N64 players with no Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest (ENIX) games for quite sometime thereafter.
Flash forward to 2019 and Final Fantasy VII, the game originally meant for the N64, is now finally on the Switch, a full three console generations later. When you close your eyes and think of Final Fantasy I bet you probably picture VII even if it’s not your favorite. It’s the most popular and best selling game in the long running JRPG franchise. That’s why we’re getting a remake of the title sometime in the future and not a full-blown remake of VI or IV. With this port of VII to the Switch it’s hopefully a sign that Square Enix and Nintendo have buried the hatchet and decided to put the past behind them so that a new generation of gamers can experience this classic for the first time.
There’s not a lot I can say about Final Fantasy VII that hasn’t been said before. Being the most popular game in one of the most popular gaming franchises of all time and being more than 20 years old means there’s a lot of fans who have dissected every inch of this game leaving me little more to say about it. So for the five people reading this article who haven’t played FFVII, this one’s for you.
Final Fantasy VII follows the story of Cloud, made popular in Super Smash Bros., as he tries to save the world from the dastardly clutches of Kingdom Heart’s secret boss and the original longhaired long-sword wielding pretty boy himself, Sephiroth. The game manages to tell a great story that still holds up today bearing emotional weight while also never taking itself too seriously. If you have somehow managed to never play this game up until now or you’re new to the gaming world than you owe it to yourself to pick this one up.
VII is the first of the mainline Final Fantasy titles released on the original PlayStation. The graphics were revolutionary at the time bringing the beloved series to 3D for the first time. For whatever reason, SQUARE thought it would be best to have hand drawn backgrounds juxtaposed to clunky 3D character models. It somehow worked back in 1997 but today it’s a little hard to jump back into. The characters were made crisper in this port and much of the 3D rendered backgrounds but the hand drawn ones look blurry. This is really where Final Fantasy VII shows its age. I know it would be much harder for Square Enix to completely update the scenery but there are plenty of fans who have modded the PC version to have HD backgrounds which makes me wonder how much harder it would have been for developers to have done the same.
The score for Final Fantasy VII is still just as wonderful today as it’s ever been. Some of Nobou Uematsu’s best work can be found in this game. The tracks transcend time and instantly fill me with waves of nostalgia and effectively convey emotion throughout the story. Recently there has been an update, which fixed a bug where the world map music would restart after every random monster encounter (a problem also prevalent in the port of Final Fantasy IX). We’re fortunate that Square Enix listened to its fans’ outcries and took action to fix this because it really bugged (pun intended) me in FFIX.
There are a few tweaks that were added to this release to help with the quality of life issues that come with a 22 year old JRPG. Grinding is still an issue here, but there is an option to turn gameplay speed up three times faster, effectively alleviating the time required for grinding experience points and money. Although it’s missing an auto-battle option, something added to most of the other recent Final Fantasy ports. Another new feature is the ability to turn off random monster encounters, which helps when you just need to get through a dungeon without it taking three hours. Last but not least, players can fully restore and power up the characters’ limit break bars at any time with a button press as well, helping with long stretches between save points. I would have liked an inclusion of an auto-save or quick-save function with this port considering it’s 2019 and most other Final Fantasy ports have this option as well.
Overall this is a solid iteration of one of the greatest video games ever made. If you’ve never played this or it’s been a long time (like it has for me) then it’s well worth the price, but veterans of the game won’t find anything new here. I’m happy that I can take this awesome game with me wherever I go. I just wish a few additional bonus features would have been added to really knock this one out of the park. And would it have killed them to finally put this one on a cartridge after all this time? It would have been the perfect ending to a complicated saga.
Final Fantasy VII Review
- Graphics - 8/108/10
- Sound - 10/1010/10
- Gameplay - 7/107/10
- Lasting Appeal - 8/108/10
Final Thoughts: GREAT
It’s Final Fantasy VII. I love this game so much I went to a concert in Tokyo to watch “A One Winged Angel” performed live. If you’re even a remote fan of turn-based JRPGs you should probably pick this one up. At long last you can play it anywhere at anytime!