FF7: A Decade away: Technically Part 0 (No-Spoilers)


Front cover of Final Fantasy VII (EU) for PlayStation


I played Final Fantasy VII many years ago, I beleive I was about 8 or 9 years old and as such I couldn'tnderstand much of what was going on. I didnt understand how to use the Magic system or how do understand where to go. While I had some enjoyment with it it gave me the opinion it had bland characters and a pointless story. Since then I never wanted to play it because the fanboy/girl population really made it seem overrated so I never wanted to give it a second try even though Ive started getting into jRPG's (and in fact RPG's in general) in the past few years (though I havent completed any jRPG's besides the story of Pokemon Blue and Gold).



Now a little over 10 years since I owned the original disks I suddenly had the urge to play the game again. Im not quite sure why, though it could perhaps be attributed to the fact that one of my college friends mention it all the time, and I downloaded it from PSN to play on my PSP and PS3. My expectation would be that I would hate it, that it would be so old fashioned I couldn't play it and that the graphics would be so ugly I couldn't play the game or understand what I was seeing.


It turns out that this isnt true. In this first blog of what may end up as a series, it depends on whether I can be bothered and where I keep playing Final Fantasy VII, Im going to do a non-spoiler post about the experience of playing an "old" game and my general experiences with the mechanics in the early part of the game. If I have the urge I intend to follow this up with some impressions of the story and gameplay of the first 10 hours of the game (at least the parts I remember).

Final Fantasy VII is a game which originally came out in 1997 for the playstation (with a follow up release on the PC) and was Squares first game on the Playstation (although they published a game called Tobal but they didnt develop it) and it can be seen in some of the graphics being very crude even by playstation standards. The common opinion seems to be that its a hard game, visually, to go back to and if you must then you should do it on a modded PC version. I was actually suprised that I wasent repulsed by the graphics at first and in fact the pre-rendered backgrounds I found were still quite visually appealing a lot of the time.


 


The standard spires for the characters do stand out quite a bit since they are extremely bright and the backgrounds tend to be more muted. That still stands out quite a bit to me after 10 hours and can sometimes dampen any emotion its trying to portray. In terms of the gameplay Ive gotten used to it and find the battle sprites (with are better proportioned and more detailed than the standard models) to still have a certain appeal.

The controls have often been a problem too, being that its an early playstaion game it dosent support the analog sticks so when your moving about the 3D world you have to use a D-Pad (which means 8 directions) and feels quite uncomfortable after so many years using the analog sticks for movements. Although on PSP (and probably PS3) there is an option to pretend the analog stick is a D-Pad it still feels really uncomfortable. This problem can quite often manifest itself because of the static camera (due to the pre-rendered backgrounds) which means that pressing up does always make you move up but instead up-right which can feel extremely odd. There have been quite a number of times when ive been trying to go through a doorway and end up banging into the corner for a few seconds before I can move on. This isnt a massive problem but it does take me out of the experience for a few seconds.

Finally on my list of problems due to age I have to say the fact that the entire game uses text and features no voice acting. I cant begrudge it for not featuring voice acting but the problem comes because ive seen the Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children movie (Im not sure why though) so I know the voices of the characters so to see so much content be without voices feels like im missing something. And because modern games, such as Losy Odyssey which ive been playing a fair bit of lately, features voice acting it can sometimes feel a little empty and quiet which can distract from the immersion. Again, I cannot begrudge the game for not having voice acting but its something ive noticed due to the passage of the time.

The passage of time has had some great benefits to the game, not least that it only costs £8 and im a cheapskate, such as the ability to play it on the PSP so I can play it on the bus and in college. When I get home I can copy the save onto my PS3 and continue playing the game on my TV screen. Offhand I can only remember this kind of system three times before, and please enlighten me if Im missing something, and that is the "Super Game Boy" (to play Game Boy games on SNES), "Game Boy Player" (GB-GBA games on Game Cube) and a "Transfer Pack" to play GB/GBC Pokemon games through Pokemon Stadium games on N64. This is a fantastic feature that means I can log a lot more time playing a game rather than simply thinking about playing a game, even for purely portable games I tend not to play them in the house even if I want to play them.
In conclusion I have to say impressed, if I was to believe the general opinion then I would assume that the graphics of FF7 are so bad I cant understand whats happening on screen but ive been pleasantly surprised by the graphics and in fact the characters/story.
Im looking forward to playing a lot more than my initial 10 hours, since I promised no spoilers ill put the name of the town I just completed in a spoiler box.

My apologies if this post seemed rambling, pointless or uninformed (its all of those things) but I wrote it on a whim and never bothered to plan it. If you read all of this then thanks, if you want to post some comments about your opinion on how well Final Fantasy 7 has held up them please post below.
7 Comments
8 Comments
Posted by Pazy


Front cover of Final Fantasy VII (EU) for PlayStation


I played Final Fantasy VII many years ago, I beleive I was about 8 or 9 years old and as such I couldn'tnderstand much of what was going on. I didnt understand how to use the Magic system or how do understand where to go. While I had some enjoyment with it it gave me the opinion it had bland characters and a pointless story. Since then I never wanted to play it because the fanboy/girl population really made it seem overrated so I never wanted to give it a second try even though Ive started getting into jRPG's (and in fact RPG's in general) in the past few years (though I havent completed any jRPG's besides the story of Pokemon Blue and Gold).



Now a little over 10 years since I owned the original disks I suddenly had the urge to play the game again. Im not quite sure why, though it could perhaps be attributed to the fact that one of my college friends mention it all the time, and I downloaded it from PSN to play on my PSP and PS3. My expectation would be that I would hate it, that it would be so old fashioned I couldn't play it and that the graphics would be so ugly I couldn't play the game or understand what I was seeing.


It turns out that this isnt true. In this first blog of what may end up as a series, it depends on whether I can be bothered and where I keep playing Final Fantasy VII, Im going to do a non-spoiler post about the experience of playing an "old" game and my general experiences with the mechanics in the early part of the game. If I have the urge I intend to follow this up with some impressions of the story and gameplay of the first 10 hours of the game (at least the parts I remember).

Final Fantasy VII is a game which originally came out in 1997 for the playstation (with a follow up release on the PC) and was Squares first game on the Playstation (although they published a game called Tobal but they didnt develop it) and it can be seen in some of the graphics being very crude even by playstation standards. The common opinion seems to be that its a hard game, visually, to go back to and if you must then you should do it on a modded PC version. I was actually suprised that I wasent repulsed by the graphics at first and in fact the pre-rendered backgrounds I found were still quite visually appealing a lot of the time.


 


The standard spires for the characters do stand out quite a bit since they are extremely bright and the backgrounds tend to be more muted. That still stands out quite a bit to me after 10 hours and can sometimes dampen any emotion its trying to portray. In terms of the gameplay Ive gotten used to it and find the battle sprites (with are better proportioned and more detailed than the standard models) to still have a certain appeal.

The controls have often been a problem too, being that its an early playstaion game it dosent support the analog sticks so when your moving about the 3D world you have to use a D-Pad (which means 8 directions) and feels quite uncomfortable after so many years using the analog sticks for movements. Although on PSP (and probably PS3) there is an option to pretend the analog stick is a D-Pad it still feels really uncomfortable. This problem can quite often manifest itself because of the static camera (due to the pre-rendered backgrounds) which means that pressing up does always make you move up but instead up-right which can feel extremely odd. There have been quite a number of times when ive been trying to go through a doorway and end up banging into the corner for a few seconds before I can move on. This isnt a massive problem but it does take me out of the experience for a few seconds.

Finally on my list of problems due to age I have to say the fact that the entire game uses text and features no voice acting. I cant begrudge it for not featuring voice acting but the problem comes because ive seen the Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children movie (Im not sure why though) so I know the voices of the characters so to see so much content be without voices feels like im missing something. And because modern games, such as Losy Odyssey which ive been playing a fair bit of lately, features voice acting it can sometimes feel a little empty and quiet which can distract from the immersion. Again, I cannot begrudge the game for not having voice acting but its something ive noticed due to the passage of the time.

The passage of time has had some great benefits to the game, not least that it only costs £8 and im a cheapskate, such as the ability to play it on the PSP so I can play it on the bus and in college. When I get home I can copy the save onto my PS3 and continue playing the game on my TV screen. Offhand I can only remember this kind of system three times before, and please enlighten me if Im missing something, and that is the "Super Game Boy" (to play Game Boy games on SNES), "Game Boy Player" (GB-GBA games on Game Cube) and a "Transfer Pack" to play GB/GBC Pokemon games through Pokemon Stadium games on N64. This is a fantastic feature that means I can log a lot more time playing a game rather than simply thinking about playing a game, even for purely portable games I tend not to play them in the house even if I want to play them.
In conclusion I have to say impressed, if I was to believe the general opinion then I would assume that the graphics of FF7 are so bad I cant understand whats happening on screen but ive been pleasantly surprised by the graphics and in fact the characters/story.
Im looking forward to playing a lot more than my initial 10 hours, since I promised no spoilers ill put the name of the town I just completed in a spoiler box.

My apologies if this post seemed rambling, pointless or uninformed (its all of those things) but I wrote it on a whim and never bothered to plan it. If you read all of this then thanks, if you want to post some comments about your opinion on how well Final Fantasy 7 has held up them please post below.
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Posted by coonce

that's a great post. i remember playing FFVII as a kid too and totally dug it.....

Posted by Pazy
@coonce said:
" that's a great post. i remember playing FFVII as a kid too and totally dug it..... "
Thanks, I thought it was rambling myself lol do you think FFVII would hold up playing it just now? Or perhaps you dont want to think of it for fear it would destroy your memories of it?
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Posted by dankempster

Awesome blog post, Pazy. Oddly enough, I'm doing a very similar thing right now, although my position is a little different to yours. Final Fantasy VII is one of my all-time favourite games, but I haven't played it in a few years, and was wondering just how it stands up in 2010. Like you, I decided to download the game from PSN and have been playing it through and chronicling my progress in my Giant Bomb blog, discarding my nostalgia and casting an objective eye over the game. I've reached the exact same point that you have, and so far our opinions seem to be matching up pretty consistently. One matter I do disagree with you about is the text boxes - I've found that having involvement in the dialogue scenes by pressing the Circle button actually increases my attachment to the game, as opposed to more recent games in the series where cut-scenes and dialogue are very passive experiences. 
 
Once again, great blog, and I look forward to reading more of your thoughts on the game as you progress.

Posted by Meowayne

Coincidentally, I completed the second disc of Final Fantasy VII yesterday.  For the third or fourth time, but the first in a long time.
 
Such a fantastic, awesome game.

Edited by Pazy
@dankempster said:

" . One matter I do disagree with you about is the text boxes - I've found that having involvement in the dialogue scenes by pressing the Circle button actually increases my attachment to the game, as opposed to more recent games in the series where cut-scenes and dialogue are very passive experiences."

I can totally see getting connected like that, for me since I got into jRPG's later Im used to voice acting and since ive been Advent Children I already know the voices so it can sometimes feel like im playing the game on mute. But I can totally see how people would love the purely textual dialogue.

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Posted by Meowayne

I don't love the text boxes, I love the storytelling devices, pacing and interactivity that comes with them, and I'd hate to think how much of it is ruined by voice actors. 
 
JRPGs work best as interactive novels / stage plays, not movies or animes. Always have, always will be.
 
Also, thanks for using the proper cover for this post, not the horrible US one. :)
 

Edited by Pazy
@Meowayne said:

" I don't love the text boxes, I love the storytelling devices, pacing and interactivity that comes with them, and I'd hate to think how much of it is ruined by voice actors.   JRPGs work best as interactive novels / stage plays, not movies or animes. Always have, always will be.  Also, thanks for using the proper cover for this post, not the horrible US one. :)   "

I defiantly feel like jRPG's with Voice Acting and with Text are slightly different things, to put voice into FF7 without thought would ruin it and I feel like removing the voice from modern jRPG's (like Lost Odyssey and FFXIII though I haven't played the latter) would change the feel of the characters and story dramatically. U played a fair bit of Lost Odyssey muted (when I shared a room with my little brother and I played it mostly at night) and I ended up almost losing touch with the characters but with Final Fantasy 7, entirely text based, ive been able to get into the characters a lot.

EDIT: Although more importantly I had to put that box art since its what I saw as a child ;)

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