Oh I just know I’m going to piss off a lot of people with this one…
Keeping in mind, I’m just focusing on the main title, not the sequels or prequel here.
Final Fantasy 7 came out roughly a year after I got my first PlayStation. I was in either 6th or 7th grade at the time… I don’t really remember. The gamer magazines all gave it outstanding reviews. Many said that the game was edgy in that it portrayed murder, rape, and prostitution among other themes in the story.
The public reception though… at the time and from my perspective, was mixed. A lot of people loved it, saying it had a great story, great graphics, and so on. Other balked at the turn-based system and how the game designers had seemingly focused on good graphics and offered little else. Keep in mind, I can’t gauge a universal fan response at the time. Public use of the internet was still in it’s infancy (You old 56K users know what I’m talking about), so the reception I speak of is strictly anecdotal. Take that as you will.
For years, I was in the first camp. I loved the game.
I saw a commercial for it and asked for the game for Christmas. Upon opening it and playing the first disc… I was hooked. I played the game straight through. I struggled through President Rufus’s inauguration scenes, I teared up when Aeris was stabbed through the back, my jaw dropped when Cloud was revealed to be a clone, and relieved when it turned out he wasn’t one, and chills ran down my spine as ‘One Winged Angel’ echoed through my ears during the final fight.
I cannot tell you how many hours I wasted on this game as I played through it several times. So when I heard that Final Fantasy 7 was being remade, like everyone else, I was excited. So much so that I downloaded the original on my handheld PlayStation to relive the glory days.
I kind of wish I hadn’t… The nostalgia goggles fooled me once again. It was like turning on Thunder Cats or the original Transformers and realizing that these shows were a lot cheesier then I remembered.
The graphics and, by today’s standard, laughable polygons didn’t bother me. I knew that was coming, so I give the game a pass on that. I am also aware of how endearing the turn based system is and how it’s come a long way. So again, not an issue.
So what’s the problem?
Well I think part of the problem is the gamer, yes the problem is us. You see, we’ve all grown and matured and as such, we can now see glaring issues with the game that we didn’t see, or didn’t care about when we were younger.
For starters, let’s look at Cloud. He’s moody, doesn’t talk much, doesn’t seem to care about anything or anyone, has a bit of a chip on his shoulder, and yet somehow people gravitate to him. Maybe it’s because of his supposed awesome power or something? I can’t really be certain. The thing is, there’s not much to him. He’s a moody character trope that seems to show up in most, if not all, modern Final Fantasies. Granted, not always the main character, but he’s in there somewhere.
Honestly, Final Fantasy 8’s main character was very similar, in fact I think Square was aware of this as they pared the two characters up and hand them basically taunting each other during the Battle of Hollow Bastion in Kingdom Hearts 2. However, Squall was slightly different. For him, there was a lot more reason given to his moodiness and quiet. He grew up in an orphanage, and the big sister he loved so much, eventually left him behind. Though his memory of all this was gone, the imprint remained, so it made sense.
With Cloud… he was a failure and didn’t want to deal with that or something? Granted the idea of a character concocting a lie about his past and having it consume him to the point where he believed it himself, only to have that backfire, is interesting enough… except there’s a bit of a problem there…
You have everyone’s favorite waifu, (Tifa) who was there for all of the previous events and can easily debunk everything! She doesn’t though because… she’s afraid of what it might do to Cloud? I don’t know, the reason isn’t very well given and honestly makes the whole plot line hard to believe. When Sephiroth reveals that Cloud’s past is a lie and due to his mental insecurities, is able to convince Cloud that he’s a clone because of it. The story started to fall apart, especially with Tifa knowing the truth.
But they explained that too! Sephiroth said that she also had her memory altered.
Yeah I don’t know, that’s a bit of a stretch. She’s also a little too accepting of the idea. I mean maybe I could believe that Cloud’s true memories didn’t kick in because his mind was scrambled due to Mako exposure, but the rest is really pushing the suspension of disbelief.
Second issue with the story… Vincent. Vincent knows about Sephiroth. He knows about his past and where he comes from. So… why doesn’t he speak up? When Sephiroth is on screen spouting off about his destiny and his mother, why doesn’t Vincent tell him about Lucrecia? I mean yeah you could make the argument that Sephiroth probably wouldn’t believe him, but why wouldn’t you try? At the very least, it may give him pause.
Some people didn’t use Vincent. Others just didn’t have him in the party at the right time.
True, but the official story has Vincent there so that doesn’t really hold water. Also, there are a few opportunities when the entire party is on screen where he could say something, despite not being in the party.
Third issue, the love interests. Tifa and Aeris (Aerith? Aeries? Aries??? WHATEVER!!)… what can I say about them?
Honestly, Tifa was the preferable character… and I’m not saying that because her cleavage was bigger than her head… no I’m not kidding…
(I hope Cloud knows a good chiropractor!)
She honestly, despite her flaws was a very energetic and loyal character. Even when Aeris came into the picture, she still stuck by Cloud. Despite everything, she was still there to care for him and comfort him when he needed it. However she did let her emotions run wild and honestly… well let’s just say I didn’t have her in the party all that much.
Then why is she the better of the two?
Because the other option is Aeris.
I actually liked this character when I was younger and now for the life of me, I can’t remember why. Take almost any of her lines of dialogue in the game and try saying those things to people in real life. ‘Hey that’s Cloud’s thing to say, blah, blah, blah.’
‘Let’s ride the airship together, promise? PROMISE ME!’
They’re either going to think you’re a little kid or have serious mental issues. Granted, she’s not the only character with this problem… “Dr. Hojo has named me Red XIII, call me whatever you wish.”
… or you could just tell us your damn name! We’re likely to find out sooner or later anyway! Seriously, what’s your problem?
This actually was revealed a lot more in the game Crisis Core where people started to theorize that Aeris may have had some kind of mental deficiency. I remember message boards going so far as to ask if she was mentally retarded. Granted her character wasn’t done any favors in Final Fantasy Crisis Core, but we’re not really addressing that game here.
On top of that, Aeris is just annoying. She constantly laughing about something or acting like a little kid. On top of all of that, she was kind of the White Mage of this Final Fantasy despite this game not really needing one. Not only that, but her character is really in question. She barely even addresses the nature of Cloud’s relationship with Tifa during her time with the party and at some points seems to either try to sneak around behind it. Even if Cloud expressly says that Tifa is his girlfriend.
Thankfully you have the option of not being nice to her, at which point Tifa shows up for your date at the Golden Saucer and you don’t really have to deal with Aeris past the first act. So that’s a plus.
Let’s move on to the story… I’ve already stated what I take issue with in terms of the main character, but let’s look at the side quests. First of all, too many of them go nowhere. Who is the Kalm Traveler? What was his mission? Who was the man in the pipe in Sector 6? What’s his backstory? What is Aeris doing back in the church after she dies, only to disappear when you turn your back? A lot of these things go nowhere and it feels like there is an incomplete chapter in the game that was supposed to tie these things together.
Also when you leave Cait Sith in the temple and he’s destroyed, it’s written in a way that makes it a sad scene. Cait Sith was a likable character… despite having a bit of a forced introduction. So saying goodbye to him was actually a moving scene… too bad it was ruined two seconds later by a second model showing up. Also not helping things is when Cloud gives the black material to Sephiroth while your party… just kind of stands there. Yeah, they don’t make any effort to stop him… only a spectral figure of Cloud as a child… again not really explained, makes any effort.
When the inevitable happens, Aeris tries to comfort Cloud, only to have him jump on her and start beating the crap out of her… our hero everyone. When he’s not lying about his past to hide the shame of his personal failures, he’s beating up on women.
This is the major problem with Final Fantasy 7. It is edgy and it’s plot lines are interesting, but it never seems to follow through on them. Too little is explained and is up to the audience to figure out, and the whole thing just kind of becomes a muddled mess.
I will say that I was not a fan of the ending, but that may be more because of my personal bias against open endings.
So that’s pretty much my feelings on Final Fantasy 7. The characters are incredibly flawed to the point of unbelievably, the story is a mess and… really that’s all I can say about it. However I am someone who was a much bigger fan of Final Fantasy 8, so take that as you will. Of the Final Fantasies, 6(US) and 8 were the two best in my opinion. I never played any after X-2 due to 11 being an MMO and as I got older, I really didn’t have the time to put into them. So if you’re going to judge my taste, judge it on that.
Wait, wait, why did you like Final Fantasy 8 better?
Well honestly because despite being rushed into production thanks to FF7’s success, Final Fantasy 8 had a much more dynamic story, even more impressive graphics, and several twists and turns that made the game far more addictive. The characters were still pretty childish, but I had an easier time believing that these were teenagers… immature teenagers in some cases, but teens never the less.
The only major complaint I had was that its left up to the audience to figure out, despite being fairly obvious, who Squall’s parents were. (Hint: He shows up on the Ragnarok at the end of the game.) Also, up until X-2 came out, it had the best ending out of any Final Fantasy.
You actually liked X-2?
Haha… not really. The characters were annoying and the job system was flawed at best. I actually had to use a gameshark to get the 100% ending, but honestly… if you combine X and X-2 as one long story… the complete ending is actually very satisfying and wonderful.
So take that as you will. Final Fantasys 6(US) and 8 are the superior titles. Final Fantasy 7 isn’t a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, I just don’t think it’s as good as anyone remembers. It has very serious flaws that stick out more and more with each replay and sadly… its a major detractor in my opinion.
Will I play the remake? If I have time, yeah I’d love to give it a try. Hopefully some of these things will be fixed and it’s not just a re-textured redress of the original.
Please don’t kill me!
Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.
I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.
Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!
Catch you on the flip side!