PJD is a video game fanatic that has lost his freedom to play until 4:00 AM. That’ll happen when you get married. Recently, however, he has started to play old video games again, as well as new ones once they’re on sale, and has decided to review these games all over again to entice readers to experience their favorites once more through the games history in his life and a simple 5 star rating system based on the game’s original console. Follow along today as he looks at an old classic in Final Fantasy 7…
When Final Fantasy 7 came out in 1997, I was in seventh grade and making new friends after moving to a new city. Up until this point my video game repertoire had taken me through what was available at Fudrucker’s in their arcade, the classic SNES Mario games, and a couple of different things to do with Ninja Turtles. Whatever, I still kind of liked them. Sure, I had a Playstation by this time and had probably played some games like Wipeout, Twisted Metal 2, and Jet Moto, but I had never up until this point in my life played a role playing game.
However, I remember the exact first day my friend and I played one. Him, myself, and two others all sat around and had Final Fantasy 7 playing after school for several hours. It was the first time in my life that the beautifully composed music played in the background as the sun outside my house faded to black. I vividly remember from that first experience my friend taking Cloud down the mako reactor in Midgar to blow it up. I remember the epic opening video and the amazing graphics that I watched wide eyed. I remember Final Fantasy 7 changing the way I viewed and appreciated video games, and now, 13 years later, I find myself being swept up in the game all over again.
I am now married and work a mindless job. I have had to work Sunday morning shifts that leave me with nothing to do for approximately eight hours. Because of this, I recently decided to purchase a PSP Go (debate that as you will) so I could play video games at work. I mean, who wouldn’t, right? The first game I started playing was Final Fantasy 7, recently released for download on the Playstation Network. In the 13 years since the games original release, there were varying times when I, or my friend and I, would pull Final Fantasy 7 out and try to relive the experience of playing it for the first time. At least a handful of times we made detailed plans to reserve a weekend to play through the game in its entirety. Occasionally we would pull the game out and just fight the Weapon boss fights. We would get together on a Friday night and go to the Golden Saucer to attempt to get Cloud’s ultimate weapon. Even now, 13 years later, I will pull out the soundtrack – especially the orchestrated version – and listen to it as I drive at night in all of its epic glory.
All of these memories drove my decision to purchase the digital copy of Final Fantasy 7 for my PSP Go. Upon doing so, I was brought right back into the epic tale of Cloud, Midgar, mako energy, and all of the characters that accompany the series. Surprisingly, the game holds up well. While the cut scene graphics clearly look dated and less life like than I originally remembered, they haven’t lost any of their drama or humor. In fact, the matte painting backgrounds that supply most of the visuals in the game are still breathtaking. What Square developers were able to do artistically still amazes me. The Ancient Forest, Wutai, and Sector 5 slums are all areas that still look as good as any video game environment I have ever encountered. And they’re still just as fun to play through.
My most recent play through has been great. For some reason I was able to get to the end quicker than I remember it ever taking (took me about 30-35 hours this time, and that was with some sidetracking for optional quests). In completing it quicker, the story made a lot more sense to me for some reason. In addition, the game play was still enjoyable, if not feeling a bit stale. The random enemy encounters and waiting during a turn based battle system still were occasionally bothersome, but no more so than what I have always remembered it to be. I still find that I love the materia system to access magic and skills as well. It’s as deep as I remembered it, and this time I had the knowledge of advanced years instead of seventh grade knowledge to tell me what the added effects, percentage plusses, and elemental material were all about. Admittedly, I only ever used those things blindly and went straight for the summons. This time around I’ve been much more diverse, just like real life! And speaking of summons, I believe I came across some new summons that I never (or rarely) encountered in the game, including Alexander, Hades, and Typhoon. The fact that I could find so many new items in this game after so many years and play throughs says one of two things; either this game remains amazingly deep and engaging or I’ve been a retard this whole time. I’m hoping for the former.
My wife the other day asked me how my Sunday at work was when I had come home for the day. At home I notoriously hate my job, so it’s usually asked tongue in cheek. I told her that ever since I’ve gotten my PSP Go that Sundays haven’t been too bad and the day flies by. She asked me about Final Fantasy 7 and why it was so fun and what it was about. I couldn’t explain it to her though. First, she doesn’t really care, and I don’t blame her. Talking about Final Fantasy pretty much locks you into nerdom forever. Second though, it’s because, for me and I know many others, Final Fantasy 7 is more than just a game. It defined a lot of people’s youth. And those moments have never been recaptured, to be frank. Whether it was this play through now, the many other times my friend and I returned to the game, the spin offs and sequels made, or even the digital film, the original release of Final Fantasy 7 will always remain as one of the premier video game experiences I have ever had. Maybe, one day, when I can bust out my then old PS3 and fire it up for my own 14 year old kid (who will probably think I’m the biggest dumbass ever because of this), some of that magic can be recaptured. If not, I know the game will always mean more to many more people than Square could have ever imagined.
And for that, I give Final Fantasy 7 a full 5 consoles! Go check it out, all over again.
Editor’s note: Be sure to check out PJD’s website, http://purplejesus.wordpress.com/