It's 2014, and I just finished Final Fantasy VII for the first time

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Posted by GrantHeaslip (1869 posts) -
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Final Fantasy VII's a weird game to write about. It's a 17-year-old game whose reputation looms large over the genre, and in many ways a generation of gamers. To some, it's an unassailable masterpiece, and a formative childhood experience akin to my memories of playing Ocarina of Time as a 10-year-old; to others, it's the beginning of the all-consuming, belt-buckle-filled Nomurapocalypse that turned the franchise away from their formative childhood experiences with FFIV and FFVI. Ordinarily I'd try to avoid stereotyping the "sides" of an issue, but FFVII is one of those games that seems to inspire hyperbolic opinions. As someone who didn't play a mainline Final Fantasy game until the beginning of 2013 — and as someone who knew very little about FFVII aside from the infamous spoiler — I'd like to think I was better equipped than many to come at FFVII without too much baggage, for better and for worse. I ended up enjoying FFVII more than expected, and quite a bit more than FFVI, which I played the first half of prior to beginning FFVII. I continue to not particularly like the ATB battle system, and the shoddy localization is pretty unforgivable, but Final Fantasy VII's ambition and heart shines through remarkably well 17 years later.

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The most prominent characteristic of FFVII — both at the time of its release and now — is its use of pre-rendered art assets. The game very rarely comes up in a modern context without a caveat about how badly its graphics would stand up today. In some ways, those people aren't wrong — the sprite art of games like Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger has aged better in the sense that one could release a game that looked like them today and get away with it — but I also got over the way FFVII looked in a couple of hours, and ended up finding it quite a bit more visually interesting than FFVI. The sheer quantity and density of the art makes for a very lived-in-feeling world. In contrast to the fairly cookie-cutter towns of FFVI, FFVII's towns are full of life and detail. The grainy, artifact-filled CG can be hokey and inconsistent, but it's not horrendous, and is in some cases used to pretty good effect in backgrounds and scene transitions. If you're skeptical, poke around this footage of Mt. Nibel, watch this scene of Bugenhagen explaining the Lifestream, or skip around the sequence in which Cloud and Tifa explore the Lifestream (to be clear, that last one has PC-resolution character models). If you're willing and able to look past the technical constraints of the time, Final Fantasy VII is still a pretty good-looking and visually-interesting game.

Note the multiple typos. I swear the choice of image was coincidental.
Note the multiple typos. I swear the choice of image was coincidental.

The gameplay of FFVII was serviceable, but fairly uninspiring. As I said at the start, I'm not a fan of the ATB system, but FFVII did feel to me like a step up from FFVI. The Limit Break system can lead to some really intense sequences during boss battles, particularly since the biggest boss attacks naturally lead to multiple limit breaks. Being able to jump to the front of the queue with a big attack or clutch heal gave battles a dynamism I generally thought FFVI's lacked. I also think Materia is a much more sane character customization system than Espers. Espers locked me into decisions I didn't always feel like I had the knowledge or inclination to fully grasp, while Materia was non-binding. The Materia system also sidestepped the FFVI problem of having every character burdened with an unmanageably-long list of spells.

At the risk of making a reference that isn't likely to help my case, Materia reminded me of FFXIII's Paradigm system — both rewarded creativity and developing your own approach to battles without feeling too overbearing. I was talking with an FFVII-loving friend yesterday, and it hadn't ever occurred to them to spec a party member as a tank by using a combination of the Cover, Long Range, Counter, and HP Plus Materias. By the end of the game, I had Cid taking every hit for half damage and countering for like 1000 damage, and Yuffie wrecking bosses with 4000-damage Ultima hits while avoiding most of the magic damage that came her way. It felt fucking cool and personalized in a way that I never really got out of FFVI.

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It's also very much worth noting that FFVII is a somewhat easier game than FFVI, and that's in my opinion to its credit. Hitting the Floating Continent and finding myself presumably underlevelled killed my momentum in VI, and I never had a moment like that in FFVII. The bosses for the most part presented a solid-but-manageable challenge without any grinding whatsoever on my part. If I'd been seeking out more optional content and not levelling my party equally the game may have been trivially easy, but relative to my playstyle, FFVII's bosses presented a fairly satisfying challenge. Random battles tended to be nothing, but that's a fairly endemic problem with RPGs in general.

I'm having a hard time figuring out what to make of FFVII's story. I think it's fundamentally well-conceived, but some combination of the writing and localization left me pretty confused about some fairly integral story beats and character motivations. It wasn't until I completed the game and did some independent research that I really understood what the deal was with Cloud and Zack. I stumbled across a flashback in the basement of the Shinra Mansion in which Zack was escaping from a holding chamber with Cloud before getting gunned down by soldiers, and I wasn't entirely clear on when this was supposed to have happened and what it was supposed to imply. Was that right before Tifa found Cloud at the train station with no memories? Was the voice in Cloud's mind Sephiroth? I understood enough about what was going on with Cloud to understand the broad strokes of his story, but to this date I couldn't really articulate some pretty important parts of it, and I'm hesitant to research too much until I've watched Advent Children and played/watched Crisis Core.

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Similarly, I lost aspects of the overarching plot as the story came to a head. I've only just now realized that there were multiple Weapons (those huge bipedal leviathans), and that they were trying to destroy Midgar in an effort to return energy to the Lifestream in order to stop Meteor. I had a vague sense that the Weapons had something to do with Sephiroth, but as it turns out they were acting in opposition to him. The details of what Holy was, how Aerith casted it, and how it interacted with the Lifestream during the final cinematic were mostly lost on me. I still don't really know what Jenova was. It's likely that some of this confusion was my fault, but considering how shoddy so much of the writing was (to the point where I was regularly spotting straight-up typos and glaring grammatical mistakes), I'm not going to assume full responsibility.

To yet again bang the FFXIII drum, for all of the shit that game's lore gets, I had a way easier time following its plot than I had following VII's. You're telling me "fal'Cie" and "l'Cie" were too much to handle, but VII's "Weapon", "Meteor", "Holy", "Lifestream", "Mako", "Cetra", "Ancients", "Jenova", "Planet" and other assorted mumbo-jumbo and contrivances were totally fine? "Well, your favourite thing is stupid too!" isn't a great defence, but I do think it's worth considering how coherent earlier Final Fantasy stories really were if you're going to argue that the newer entries have gotten too far up their asses.

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I found that VII's characters succeeded far more than its overarching plot. The game's smaller core cast allowed the characters breathing room to have their moments, and those moments were generally pretty effective. Cloud ended up being less of a sourpuss amnesiac than I was led to believe; Tifa was a fast favourite, particularly after her and Cloud's scene in the Lifestream; Barrett, setting aside some cringe-worthy black stereotypes (he literally says "yeah boyee" at one point), ended up being a good strongman character with some unexpected emotional depth; Aerith was endearing, but often seemed to endear herself in pretty uncreative and stereotypical ways; Cid's essentially the Han Solo of FFVII, and he pulls it off quite nicely. I unfortunately picked up Yuffie and Vincent close to the end because I didn't realize they were optional characters — I used Yuffie a bunch, played through her optional quest, and came to really like her; I didn't end up using Vincent at all. For as much attention as Aerith gets in discussions about FFVII, I found Tifa and her relationship with Cloud to be a far more interesting one. Cloud's personal character arc, which I think is the most enduring aspect of FFVII, very much revolves around Tifa's; Aerith (understandably) spends most of the game as a static martyr.

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Lastly, I can't write about Final Fantasy VII without mentioning the music. I have a lot affinity for FFVI's soundtrack — particularly Terra's theme — but I think FFVII's is a step above. The game boots straight into a goosebump-inducing classic, and carries that momentum straight into the still-awesome opening sequence. The battle theme is solid, and holds up throughout the game. Aerith's theme (and in particular the Midgar Slums church arrangement of it) is one of the most effective examples of character building through music I can recall. To a lesser degree, this Midgar Slums theme helped define the atmosphere of the area and the plight of its people. Words Drowned by Fireworks is so good it managed to make me feel for Cait Sith when he offered to sacrifice himself at the Temple of the Ancients right after he fucked over the party then blackmailed them into letting him join them. Tifa's theme is sweet and melancholic without feeling too saccharine. Cid's theme might be my favourite in the game, and is one of the best "let's fucking finish this!" themes I've heard. It leads nicely into Judgment Day, a similarly-great final dungeon theme

Also, I've got a big soft spot for the the Costa del Sol theme and surf rock Chocobo theme arrangement. Oh, and Yuffie's theme! I can't not mention the hypebossthemes! (If I don't stop now, I'm going to end up describing every track.)

So that's Final Fantasy VII, and one more gaming blind spot covered. Next Square (Enix) stop: Final Fantasy X!

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#1 Edited by zokamoka (147 posts) -

This guy are sick.

I think I would rather kill myself than be introduced to ff7 in 2014 9 on the other hand.....

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#2 Edited by Hailinel (25785 posts) -

Nice write-up! It's really interesting reading the reaction and perspective of someone that never touched Final Fantasy VII back in the day.

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#3 Edited by ViciousBearMauling (2094 posts) -

@grantheaslip said:

I ended up enjoying FFVII more than expected, and quite a bit more than FFVI, which I played the first half of prior to beginning FFVII. I continue to not particularly like the ATB battle system,

You are a monster....

Not really. This was a good read. I'd be interested to see a blog on FFX when you get around to finishing it. It's the last Final Fantasy game that I enjoyed.

But really, you're a monster.

Just kidding.

Maybe...

Avatar image for grantheaslip
#4 Posted by GrantHeaslip (1869 posts) -

@viciousbearmauling said:

@grantheaslip said:

I ended up enjoying FFVII more than expected, and quite a bit more than FFVI, which I played the first half of prior to beginning FFVII. I continue to not particularly like the ATB battle system,

You are a monster....

Not really. This was a good read. I'd be interested to see a blog on FFX when you get around to finishing it. It's the last Final Fantasy game that I enjoyed.

But really, you're a monster.

Just kidding.

Maybe...

What if I told you I liked XIII more than VI or VII!?

@zokamoka said:

This guy are sick.

I think I would rather kill myself than be introduced to ff7 in 2014 9 on the other hand.....

Off course, I do plan on playing VIII and IX at some point, though probably not for a while.

@hailinel said:

Nice write-up! It's really interesting reading the reaction and perspective of someone that never touched Final Fantasy VII back in the day.

I didn't mention it in the OP to avoid muddying the waters, but I actually did play a bit of it back around the time of its release. My family was vising some family friend, and I sat in front of their PS1 and played through to (I believe) the church. I remembered a surprising amount the beginning considering I was probably 8 or 9 at the time.

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#5 Edited by Marokai (3711 posts) -

I remember going in to FFVII when I beat it for the first time just a few years ago all too-cool-for-school. Years of listening to people in my age range talk about how VII was the best, and the sheer intensity of the fanboyism, does sort of grate on you after awhile. But after I gave it my first genuine shot and completed it, it really was an amazing experience for a game that came from 1997. You're totally right that the translation is abominable in spots, but that's not really out of line for a lot of games in that era, and otherwise the game is incredible in its scope and scale for its day.

Even though I knew it was coming, leaving Midgar was one of those "Holy shit, there's an entire world out here?" moments. Midgar itself was just so huge, and you spent so long in it, that the thought of having entire continents left to go makes the world of FFVII seem gigantic. The gameplay is just a straight-up better version of 6's, and the music is exactly what I fucking love about Nobuo Uematsu and I will never not grieve for the loss of his music in the series.

If you've never played Lost Odyssey, look up that game's soundtrack; it's basically where Final Fantasy's music would've gone had Uematsu continued doing the music for that series. I know you're a fan of FFXIII, but I got really fucking sick of that game's music when it became clear to me that Japan apparently has some creepy obsession with the violin, with a side of choir chanting and a general orchestral cacophony. I just fucking miss synths, dammit.

Anyway, I was totally one of "those people" who kind of hated on the game as being overrated, and all that. But it's really not; it genuinely deserves the praise and adoration it got. It's not "best game ever" but I can totally understand why someone from 1997 might've thought so. It's a game that deserves high appreciation.

I'm not sure if you've ever read the string of Final Fantasy write-ups from Socksmakepeoplesexy, and obviously it ends with conclusions you wouldn't draw by the time it got to the end, but it's a great read regardless.

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#6 Posted by Solh0und (2170 posts) -

Don't feel bad. There are still people out there that still haven't even played it!

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#7 Posted by Justin258 (15693 posts) -

@viciousbearmauling said:

@grantheaslip said:

I ended up enjoying FFVII more than expected, and quite a bit more than FFVI, which I played the first half of prior to beginning FFVII. I continue to not particularly like the ATB battle system,

You are a monster....

Not really. This was a good read. I'd be interested to see a blog on FFX when you get around to finishing it. It's the last Final Fantasy game that I enjoyed.

But really, you're a monster.

Just kidding.

Maybe...

What if I told you I liked XIII more than VI or VII!?

This is like someone saying that they don't like the Back to the Future movies. It's just logically impossible.

...all right, all right, I'm kidding! But you seem to have said that you didn't finish VI, which is something you definitely need to do. I think that game shines throughout but its latter half is where the story really comes together for a pretty fantastic finish. I only finished VI earlier this year, by the way, about a month after I finished IV (IV's good, not as good, but really good). How far into VI did you get?

Meanwhile, I'll finish reading your review. I've played some of FFVII but never made it very far into the game. In fact, thus far, FFIV and VI are the only two I've finished.

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#8 Posted by Wemibelle (2650 posts) -

VII is the last one I haven't played from that era (having finally finished VIII and IX earlier this year), but I have gotten really close. My game save was at the very end of the game, but I couldn't beat it as a younger kid. Now, I don't have that save anymore and would have to start from the beginning, a proposition I'm not really sure I'm willing to do. Playing through the entire thing again just to fight, and beat, the last boss seems a bit too tedious for my liking.

What if I told you I liked XIII more than VI or VII!?

That sounds right in my book. I think I still like Lightning Returns more than any other Final Fantasy game I've played (mostly just anything pre-VII). XII is a close second, simply on gameplay alone.

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#9 Posted by Slag (8164 posts) -

@hailinel said:

Nice write-up! It's really interesting reading the reaction and perspective of someone that never touched Final Fantasy VII back in the day.

ditto especially when that somebody is @grantheaslip

What is it about ATB do you not like Grant? Just curious. I could see how compared to today's systems it's probably antiquated, but I remember thinking it was heads and shoulders above other SNES JRPG battle systems.

What if I told you I liked XIII more than VI or VII!?

I know this wasn't directed at me, I actually kinda hope that you would. It would be a little sad to me, if the series hadn't changed itself well over time to better suit the tastes of modern gamers and take advantage of modern tech.

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#10 Edited by Nasar7 (3224 posts) -

Glad you enjoyed it, although I disagree with the assertion that VII's plot is as opaque as XIII's. The music is some of Uematsu's best work too.

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#11 Edited by nebbxii (2 posts) -

Good read. I consider myself a big-time fanboy of FF7. I played when it first came out in 1997, but I was too young to understand the game. To date I am still trying to make a full 100% completion of the game in its entirety and I'm driven to make it happen. I've always had an interest in world mythology and over the years I came to understand that FF7 is a compilation of all world mythology. There's the obvious summon-gods: Shiva, Ifrit, Hades, Odin, Alexander. There's also some more subtle references. The city of Midgar is close to Midgarde, or Middle-Earth in Norse myth. Cloud's motorcycle is named Fenris. Fenris is a mythological wolf that ate the hand* of Balder, god of light and beauty (Norse). I've heard that the name Sephiroth is a reference to an Egyptian god but recently I read that in the Tarot Tree of Life a Sephiroth is a sphere representing stages in human evolution. The meteor that Sephiroth summons to destroy the planet is the Sumerian Nemesis that was expected to destroy earth in 2012. References to this can be seen in the Black Temple in pictograms. There is so much more and I continue to find new bits of information as the years go by. No matter how many times I pick the game back up I am learning a new facet of it.

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#12 Edited by Fredchuckdave (10824 posts) -

FFVII's plot is none too great but the rest of it is excellent so there you go. Granted I'd still much rather play 4, 6, and 8 again; but I'm not unhappy that I spent 150 hours playing it when I was 12. Obviously you aren't a manly man because you didn't use Cid and Barrett at all times. This train we on don't make no stops!

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#13 Edited by ToTheNines (1672 posts) -

This is extremely well written, thank you! I have often considered playing FFVII but I could never really motivate myself to do so today, but this "review" is something to consider. I have only ever fully completed VIII, which I think for the lonely teenager that I was back then, was the perfect game for me and I have a lot of nostalgia for it. I wonder if you would take a look at it down the line?

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#14 Edited by MajorMitch (1170 posts) -

Nice write-up! It's refreshing to hear a pretty unbiased take on FF7 in 2014. That game is so weirdly wrapped up in its own legacy that most people aren't in a position to give any sort of level-headed critique nowadays.

I'm 100% with you on the music. I go back and forth on my favorite FF soundtrack, depending on what day you ask me :) But FF7 has a ton of truly great songs that uniquely fit the part of the game where they play. I remember FF7 for it's big "set piece" moments, and the various moods that accompany those moments more than anything, and the music is probably the main contributor to those memories for me.

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#15 Edited by GrantHeaslip (1869 posts) -

@marokai said:

I remember going in to FFVII when I beat it for the first time just a few years ago all too-cool-for-school. Years of listening to people in my age range talk about how VII was the best, and the sheer intensity of the fanboyism, does sort of grate on you after awhile. But after I gave it my first genuine shot and completed it, it really was an amazing experience for a game that came from 1997. You're totally right that the translation is abominable in spots, but that's not really out of line for a lot of games in that era, and otherwise the game is incredible in its scope and scale for its day.

Even though I knew it was coming, leaving Midgar was one of those "Holy shit, there's an entire world out here?" moments. Midgar itself was just so huge, and you spent so long in it, that the thought of having entire continents left to go makes the world of FFVII seem gigantic. The gameplay is just a straight-up better version of 6's, and the music is exactly what I fucking love about Nobuo Uematsu and I will never not grieve for the loss of his music in the series.

If you've never played Lost Odyssey, look up that game's soundtrack; it's basically where Final Fantasy's music would've gone had Uematsu continued doing the music for that series. I know you're a fan of FFXIII, but I got really fucking sick of that game's music when it became clear to me that Japan apparently has some creepy obsession with the violin, with a side of choir chanting and a general orchestral cacophony. I just fucking miss synths, dammit.

Anyway, I was totally one of "those people" who kind of hated on the game as being overrated, and all that. But it's really not; it genuinely deserves the praise and adoration it got. It's not "best game ever" but I can totally understand why someone from 1997 might've thought so. It's a game that deserves high appreciation.

I'm not sure if you've ever read the string of Final Fantasy write-ups from Socksmakepeoplesexy, and obviously it ends with conclusions you wouldn't draw by the time it got to the end, but it's a great read regardless.

I see where you're coming from with the music. I think I like both of the musical "branches" you're talking about -- just for different reasons. The string stuff does it for me (I've basically never heard a Yoko Shimomura track I didn't love), and the more contemporary electronica and J-pop stuff works for me as well. I'm a big fan of the Final Fantasy XIII-2 soundtrack, which took XIII's musical base and went in somereallyinterestingdirections with it. I can totally see why people don't like the musical direction of the XIII series, but I've loved it. I never wrote about Lightning Returns because I don't like writing about games I'm tepid about, but I've been meaning to write about its soundtrack because there's some really neat and un-video-game-like stuff in there.

Speaking of synths, I was going to mention how awesome the PS1 hardware synthesizer is but cut it for space. As I understand it, it's a beefed-up version of the Sony sound chip in the SNES.

I've heard about that FF series, but I don't want to read it until I've played all of the games I want to play. I really like not knowing very much about games before I play them.

This is like someone saying that they don't like the Back to the Future movies. It's just logically impossible.

...all right, all right, I'm kidding! But you seem to have said that you didn't finish VI, which is something you definitely need to do. I think that game shines throughout but its latter half is where the story really comes together for a pretty fantastic finish. I only finished VI earlier this year, by the way, about a month after I finished IV (IV's good, not as good, but really good). How far into VI did you get?

Meanwhile, I'll finish reading your review. I've played some of FFVII but never made it very far into the game. In fact, thus far, FFIV and VI are the only two I've finished.

A lot of it comes down to the battle systems for me. If XIII had the traditional VI/VII ATB system, I'd be much less willing to deal with its many (many!) flaws. Likewise, if VI and VII had the Paradigm system, I'd be much more willing to deal with their flaws. In a weird way, I think getting into JPRGs by way of XIII has made it really difficult for me to deal with the less interesting (in my opinion, of course) battle systems of other games.

I ended up making it to the ending of the Floating Continent, right before the World of Ruin. I was already kind of forcing myself to keep playing, then got screwed by the RNG in a timed escape sequence and never came back to it. I might come back to it eventually, but my sense is that I'd have enjoyed the second half less than the first half, and I didn't enjoy the first half as much more than an academic exercize. I don't have any particular problem with FFVI, but I don't think it's for me. I feel like I've seen as much as I wanted to.

VII is the last one I haven't played from that era (having finally finished VIII and IX earlier this year), but I have gotten really close. My game save was at the very end of the game, but I couldn't beat it as a younger kid. Now, I don't have that save anymore and would have to start from the beginning, a proposition I'm not really sure I'm willing to do. Playing through the entire thing again just to fight, and beat, the last boss seems a bit too tedious for my liking.

@grantheaslip said:

What if I told you I liked XIII more than VI or VII!?

That sounds right in my book. I think I still like Lightning Returns more than any other Final Fantasy game I've played (mostly just anything pre-VII). XII is a close second, simply on gameplay alone.

I read somewhere that the difficulty of the final boss is scaled to Cloud's level, so I may have inadvertently made it easier on myself by not grinding or doing much side content.

As for Lightning Returns, as I said in an earlier reply, I wasn't much of a fan of it. Actually, a big part of the reason I still prefer XIII to XIII-2 or Lightning Returns is that the difficulty was better balanced. I found pretty much everything except for the last bosses of XIII-2 and (especially) Lightning Returns to be a cakewalk since there was little preventing you from being over-levelled in either. I finished the main quests of Lightning Returns absurdly fast (I think I finished the last one at the dawn of the third day or something) by abusing Chronostasis to hell, and in doing so kind of messed up the quality of my experience with it. (Feel like I'm getting way off-topic with these replies.)

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#16 Posted by Sinusoidal (3608 posts) -

Final Fantasy VII is one of those I completed back when it came out, and I'll never go back to because there's absolutely no way it's as good as I remember. (Though, there's also no way it's as bad as the XIII trilogy.) It's good to hear it actually holds up a bit beyond the rampant fanboyism/nostalgia surrounding it. Even if you're horribly mistaken about VI being the obviously superior game. ;-D

I played through the entire thing on a partly-blurry, 13 inch CRT TV that had dials on it, huddled in my dorm room my third year of university. A very early incarnation of Gamefaqs helped me breed a gold chocobo. It was pure nerd bliss.

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#17 Edited by GrantHeaslip (1869 posts) -

@slag said:

@hailinel said:

Nice write-up! It's really interesting reading the reaction and perspective of someone that never touched Final Fantasy VII back in the day.

ditto especially when that somebody is @grantheaslip

What is it about ATB do you not like Grant? Just curious. I could see how compared to today's systems it's probably antiquated, but I remember thinking it was heads and shoulders above other SNES JRPG battle systems.

ATB battles have mostly felt like rote input to me, with very little room for complex strategies or interesting rhythms. VI and VII both give you lots of weird options, but I never really felt any incentive to use them when I was doing just fine mashing the attack command, unloading my most powerful spells on bosses, and healing when necessary. I had a sense that the bosses that were going to matter might be immune to debuffs, so I figured I'd be best off with as straightforward of a strategy as possible. The opaqueness of the attack queue also bugs me, because it means I don't have any kind of higher-level view of the flow of battle. The constant timer means that battles are an odd mix of watching meters fill up and frantically tearing through menus. XIII's not altogether different in that respect, but because the auto command was usually what I wanted, I didn't feel so hurried most of the time. That auto command also sidesteps the homework of keeping track of enemy weaknesses, which I've never really enjoyed in any RPG except maybe Pokemon.

This is sort of a different issue, but I also appreciate the way XIII does away with mana and auto-recharges your health between fights. If mana's a resource I have to worry about, it means I have a strong disincentive to do cool things. That and the lack of random battles made going through combat areas a lot more pleasant and interesting experience. I started playing Tales of Vesperia last night and I'm already feeling a palpable relief in not having to worry about random battles.

@nasar7 said:

Glad you enjoyed it, although I disagree with the assertion that VII's plot is as opaque as XIII's. The music is some of Uematsu's best work too.

I think there's a case to be made that VII is more inscrutable, but it's sort of an unfair comparison because of the problems with VII's localization. That's probably best left as an agree to disagree thing :). We can at least agree that the music is great!

@nebbxii said:

Good read. I consider myself a big-time fanboy of FF7. I played when it first came out in 1997, but I was too young to understand the game. To date I am still trying to make a full 100% completion of the game in its entirety and I'm driven to make it happen. I've always had an interest in world mythology and over the years I came to understand that FF7 is a compilation of all world mythology. There's the obvious summon-gods: Shiva, Ifrit, Hades, Odin, Alexander. There's also some more subtle references. The city of Midgar is close to Midgarde, or Middle-Earth in Norse myth. Cloud's motorcycle is named Fenris. Fenris is a mythological wolf that ate the hand* of Balder, god of light and beauty (Norse). I've heard that the name Sephiroth is a reference to an Egyptian god but recently I read that in the Tarot Tree of Life a Sephiroth is a sphere representing stages in human evolution. The meteor that Sephiroth summons to destroy the planet is the Sumerian Nemesis that was expected to destroy earth in 2012. References to this can be seen in the Black Temple in pictograms. There is so much more and I continue to find new bits of information as the years go by. No matter how many times I pick the game back up I am learning a new facet of it.

Wow, if you registered just to comment, thanks, and welcome! I'm probably not telling you anything you don't already know, but if you're into mythology mash-ups in your JRPGs, the Persona and/or Shin Megami Tensei games would be way up your alley.

FFVII's plot is none too great but the rest of it is excellent so there you go. Granted I'd still much rather play 4, 6, and 8 again; but I'm not unhappy that I spent 150 hours playing it when I was 12. Obviously you aren't a manly man because you didn't use Cid and Barrett at all times. This train we on don't make no stops!

No Caption Provided

I blew through most of the end of the game with Cid and Yuffie, if that counts for anything. Cid doesn't fuck around:

This is extremely well written, thank you! I have often considered playing FFVII but I could never really motivate myself to do so today, but this "review" is something to consider. I have only ever fully completed VIII, which I think for the lonely teenager that I was back then, was the perfect game for me and I have a lot of nostalgia for it. I wonder if you would take a look at it down the line?

I'm definitely planning on playing and writing about VIII and IX at some point, but probably not until next year. I know even less about those games, so it's going to be interesting to dig into them and find out what they're all about.

Nice write-up! It's refreshing to hear a pretty unbiased take on FF7 in 2014. That game is so weirdly wrapped up in its own legacy that most people aren't in a position to give any sort of level-headed critique nowadays.

I'm 100% with you on the music. I go back and forth on my favorite FF soundtrack, depending on what day you ask me :) But FF7 has a ton of truly great songs that uniquely fit the part of the game where they play. I remember FF7 for it's big "set piece" moments, and the various moods that accompany those moments more than anything, and the music is probably the main contributor to those memories for me.

Yeah, the music is so well-suited to many of the scenes and characters in this game. I'm curious about how much context Uematsu was given -- I know that some game composers get story concepts and art to work with when composing.

In general, I was really impressed with the quality of the big story scenes. I was to some degree calibrating my expectation to the game's age, but I didn't need to look past very much to appreciate most of it. This game must have been ridiculously impressive at the time.

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#18 Edited by Aetheldod (3914 posts) -

I personally never found the graphics is dated to be a big problem , granted when I was introduced to gaming dots and squares were the stuff you had to work with , but yes it is true that CG/3D dont age all that well comapred to pixels. Also cool that you found FFVII good and playable ... if more people werent as closed minded :/ .... you still need to play the best one which is FFVIII , well ok also XIII is too , but dont tell anybody are I´ll be hanged by naysayers and madmen :P

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#19 Posted by MormonWarrior (2945 posts) -

FF VIII>VI>IX>X>VII

I always hated the look of VII, even when it was just the late 90's and I was seeing it for the first time. VIII and IX always looked so much better art design and character-wise that I could never go back. I ended up playing VII finally when I sprained my ankle eight or so years ago, and it was okay but not worth the hype and praise people lob at it. VI was better than VII, and the three games after it were all better too. The rest of the series isn't anything I've liked very much, even IV which people seem to have some fond feelings for.

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#20 Posted by GrantHeaslip (1869 posts) -

Final Fantasy VII is one of those I completed back when it came out, and I'll never go back to because there's absolutely no way it's as good as I remember. (Though, there's also no way it's as bad as the XIII trilogy.) It's good to hear it actually holds up a bit beyond the rampant fanboyism/nostalgia surrounding it. Even if you're horribly mistaken about VI being the obviously superior game. ;-D

I played through the entire thing on a partly-blurry, 13 inch CRT TV that had dials on it, huddled in my dorm room my third year of university. A very early incarnation of Gamefaqs helped me breed a gold chocobo. It was pure nerd bliss.

In a weird way, the game probably looked better on that TV for you than it did on my LCD because of the PS1's dithering. Basically (and I'm not a video engineer), a lot of PS1 games used these stippled-looking colour patterns that would be blended together by CRTs to create more subtle colour palettes. On a LCD, it means that everything looks like it's covered in weird video artifacts at all times.

I feel like Ocarina of Time is my Final Fantasy VII, and it's largely held up for me over the years. It's impossible for me to separate from nostalgia and I know my opinions on it are hopelessly compromised, but it thankfully didn't crush my childhood when I returned to it later on.

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#21 Posted by Hailinel (25785 posts) -

Final Fantasy VII is one of those I completed back when it came out, and I'll never go back to because there's absolutely no way it's as good as I remember. (Though, there's also no way it's as bad as the XIII trilogy.)

Then they must both be fantastic, then!

I see where you're coming from with the music. I think I like both of the musical "branches" you're talking about -- just for different reasons. The string stuff does it for me (I've basically never heard a Yoko Shimomura track I didn't love), and the more contemporary electronica and J-pop stuff works for me as well. I'm a big fan of the Final Fantasy XIII-2 soundtrack, which took XIII's musical base and went in somereallyinterestingdirections with it. I can totally see why people don't like the musical direction of the XIII series, but I've loved it. I never wrote about Lightning Returns because I don't like writing about games I'm tepid about, but I've been meaning to write about its soundtrack because there's some really neat and un-video-game-like stuff in there.

Speaking of synths, I was going to mention how awesome the PS1 hardware synthesizer is but cut it for space. As I understand it, it's a beefed-up version of the Sony sound chip in the SNES.

I've heard about that FF series, but I don't want to read it until I've played all of the games I want to play. I really like not knowing very much about games before I play them.

A lot of it comes down to the battle systems for me. If XIII had the traditional VI/VII ATB system, I'd be much less willing to deal with its many (many!) flaws. Likewise, if VI and VII had the Paradigm system, I'd be much more willing to deal with their flaws. In a weird way, I think getting into JPRGs by way of XIII has made it really difficult for me to deal with the less interesting (in my opinion, of course) battle systems of other games.

I ended up making it to the ending of the Floating Continent, right before the World of Ruin. I was already kind of forcing myself to keep playing, then got screwed by the RNG in a timed escape sequence and never came back to it. I might come back to it eventually, but my sense is that I'd have enjoyed the second half less than the first half, and I didn't enjoy the first half as much more than an academic exercize. I don't have any particular problem with FFVI, but I don't think it's for me. I feel like I've seen as much as I wanted to.

I read somewhere that the difficulty of the final boss is scaled to Cloud's level, so I may have inadvertently made it easier on myself by not grinding or doing much side content.

As for Lightning Returns, as I said in an earlier reply, I wasn't much of a fan of it. Actually, a big part of the reason I still prefer XIII to XIII-2 or Lightning Returns is that the difficulty was better balanced. I found pretty much everything except for the last bosses of XIII-2 and (especially) Lightning Returns to be a cakewalk since there was little preventing you from being over-levelled in either. I finished the main quests of Lightning Returns absurdly fast (I think I finished the last one at the dawn of the third day or something) by abusing Chronostasis to hell, and in doing so kind of messed up the quality of my experience with it. (Feel like I'm getting way off-topic with these replies.)

The music in Final Fantasy VII is some of the best that Uematsu has ever done. It's a soundtrack with some of my favorite songs in the series, though there's a lot of good company with tracks from the rest of the series, as well. (Theatrhythm: Curtain Call comes out next week, and that's just going to be awesome!)

I'd say that if Final Fantasy VI isn't clicking with you by the end of the floating continent, the World of Ruin probably won't improve your view of the game too dramatically. The structure of the World of Ruin is much more open than the first half of the game, but it's mostly character-driven sidequests. The lone central plot point remaining at that point is entering Kefka's Tower and giving him a beat down. I still count Final Fantasy VI as one of my all-time favorite games for a lot of reasons, but it's also twenty years old, and I could understand not getting into it as much as might have been the case in 1994. (Oh god, I'm getting old.)

As for the final boss of Final Fantasy VII scaling to Cloud's level, I'm not sure if it's true, though Final Fantasy VIII leaned much more heavily on level scaling. It's unusual to have an RPG that could actually punish you for power leveling.

Lightning Returns has its share of shortcuts that can make getting through the main quests a quick affair, and abusing Chronostasis is very easy to do on a New Game + when you start over with with an eight-point EP gauge and all of your EP abilities from the get-go. But while the combat wasn't necessarily the most challenging the vast majority of the time, I really appreciate what it offered and the freedom it allowed. Most people I've talked to regarding the final boss in particular had their own strategies for how they ended up besting him.

But that's getting off-track.

Even having played it back in the day, and having played and enjoyed Final Fantasy IV and VI before it, Final Fantasy VII had a lot to offer that was mind-blowing back then and is still surprising now. I went back to play it again not that long ago, and like @marokai said above, that moment when I finally left Midgar and saw the world map really made me take pause. Even knowing that there was a vast amount of game beyond Midgar, and a vast world, after spending the first eight or so hours running around in its cramped corridors and grimy environments, there's still that sense of awe upon finally leaving it.

I also admit to being somewhat jaded about Final Fantasy VII in the years since I first played it. There's a certain portion of the game's fanbase that can be offputting, and after playing other games in the series, and remembering Final Fantasy VI so fondly, my view of the game itself dimmed over time. But though people do complain about their existence, the various Final Fantasy VII side-projects that expanded the universe and lore really helped me remember why I liked Final Fantasy VII, and I actually enjoy those various projects in their own right as well. Heck, I even enjoyed Dirge of Cerberus (the PS2 action game starring Vincent), and to this day, I don't know many others that could really say the same on that. (Not that DoC isn't without its major flaws, the final boss fight is practically a joke, but it was a fun game.)

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#22 Edited by Justin258 (15693 posts) -

@slag said:

@hailinel said:

Nice write-up! It's really interesting reading the reaction and perspective of someone that never touched Final Fantasy VII back in the day.

ditto especially when that somebody is @grantheaslip

What is it about ATB do you not like Grant? Just curious. I could see how compared to today's systems it's probably antiquated, but I remember thinking it was heads and shoulders above other SNES JRPG battle systems.

ATB battles have mostly felt like rote input to me, with very little room for complex strategies or interesting rhythms. VI and VII both give you lots of weird options, but I never really felt any incentive to use them when I was doing just fine mashing the attack command, unloading my most powerful spells on bosses, and healing when necessary. I had a sense that the bosses that were going to matter might be immune to debuffs, so I figured I'd be best off with as straightforward of a strategy as possible. The opaqueness of the attack queue also bugs me, because it means I don't have any kind of higher-level view of the flow of battle. The constant timer means that battles are an odd mix of watching meters fill up and frantically tearing through menus. XIII's not altogether different in that respect, but because the auto command was usually what I wanted, I didn't feel so hurried most of the time. That auto command also sidesteps the homework of keeping track of enemy weaknesses, which I've never really enjoyed in any RPG except maybe Pokemon.

This is sort of a different issue, but I also appreciate the way XIII does away with mana and auto-recharges your health between fights. If mana's a resource I have to worry about, it means I have a strong disincentive to do cool things. That and the lack of random battles made going through combat areas a lot more pleasant and interesting experience. I started playing Tales of Vesperia last night and I'm already feeling a palpable relief in not having to worry about random battles.

If you set the battle system to "wait" in the options or config or whatever, then you can open up the items or magic menu and go eat a sandwich while thinking about your next move if you want to. The only time things will continue to happen is if you just leave it on the regular battle screen. "Active" won't wait for you while you're fumbling around for Hi-Potions, though.

Also on the battle system note, Final Fantasy X does not use the ATB system or any sort of variant where your turn can be interrupted while you're thinking about what's going on. I don't know if you've started it yet or even knew this, but I thought it was worth pointing out. You still have to participate in random battles but Tidus gets a "Flee" skill pretty early that (I think) always works.

On the issue of FFVI:

A lot of it comes down to the battle systems for me. If XIII had the traditional VI/VII ATB system, I'd be much less willing to deal with its many (many!) flaws. Likewise, if VI and VII had the Paradigm system, I'd be much more willing to deal with their flaws. In a weird way, I think getting into JPRGs by way of XIII has made it really difficult for me to deal with the less interesting (in my opinion, of course) battle systems of other games.

I ended up making it to the ending of the Floating Continent, right before the World of Ruin. I was already kind of forcing myself to keep playing, then got screwed by the RNG in a timed escape sequence and never came back to it. I might come back to it eventually, but my sense is that I'd have enjoyed the second half less than the first half, and I didn't enjoy the first half as much more than an academic exercize. I don't have any particular problem with FFVI, but I don't think it's for me. I feel like I've seen as much as I wanted to.

Given this bit, and given that you're tiring of random encounters, holding off on VI for a little while might be a good idea. Were you enjoying the story much? Even in 2014, that's the part that I think holds up the most. They tried to do so much with just a 16-bit JRPG and they really succeeded. FFVI's battle system was fine for me, though I'll agree that it's not as interesting as FFXIII's.

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#23 Edited by Sinusoidal (3608 posts) -

@hailinel said:

@sinusoidal said:

Final Fantasy VII is one of those I completed back when it came out, and I'll never go back to because there's absolutely no way it's as good as I remember. (Though, there's also no way it's as bad as the XIII trilogy.)

Then they must both be fantastic, then!

Hailinel Hailinel Hailinel... Can't you let it go already? I know you love the XIII trilogy for some abstract reasons you never seem able to convey very well, but the fact remains it's a hot mess of badly written garbage. Not every thread needs to turn into you defending it.

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#24 Posted by Hailinel (25785 posts) -

@hailinel said:

@sinusoidal said:

Final Fantasy VII is one of those I completed back when it came out, and I'll never go back to because there's absolutely no way it's as good as I remember. (Though, there's also no way it's as bad as the XIII trilogy.)

Then they must both be fantastic, then!

Hailinel Hailinel Hailinel... Can't you let it go already? I know you love the XIII trilogy for some abstract reasons you never seem able to convey very well, but the fact remains it's a hot mess of badly written garbage. Not every thread needs to turn into you defending it.

Not every thread needs to turn into you attacking it, either. And I've conveyed my thoughts on the series quite well, thought that's not what we're here to talk about.

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#25 Posted by ArbitraryWater (15753 posts) -

The PS1 is basically my Final Fantasy blind-spot at this point, which is sorta funny since those 3 games are basically the peak of the series' popularity and I've sort of danced around VII-IX with me playing XIII this year and having some experience with the NES/SNES/PS2 eras. I have VII installed on my computer and will probably get to it eventually, but I imagine your write up as someone coming to it in 2014 won't be dissimilar from how I receive it.

In any case, I can't emo it up with Cloud in the slums of Midgar until I time travel/pokemon my way through XIII-2 and then exercise fashion skills in Lightning Returns. Priorities.

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#26 Edited by GrantHeaslip (1869 posts) -

@hailinel said:


[...] The music in Final Fantasy VII is some of the best that Uematsu has ever done. It's a soundtrack with some of my favorite songs in the series, though there's a lot of good company with tracks from the rest of the series, as well. (Theatrhythm: Curtain Call comes out next week, and that's just going to be awesome!)

I'd say that if Final Fantasy VI isn't clicking with you by the end of the floating continent, the World of Ruin probably won't improve your view of the game too dramatically. The structure of the World of Ruin is much more open than the first half of the game, but it's mostly character-driven sidequests. The lone central plot point remaining at that point is entering Kefka's Tower and giving him a beat down. I still count Final Fantasy VI as one of my all-time favorite games for a lot of reasons, but it's also twenty years old, and I could understand not getting into it as much as might have been the case in 1994. (Oh god, I'm getting old.)

As for the final boss of Final Fantasy VII scaling to Cloud's level, I'm not sure if it's true, though Final Fantasy VIII leaned much more heavily on level scaling. It's unusual to have an RPG that could actually punish you for power leveling.

Lightning Returns has its share of shortcuts that can make getting through the main quests a quick affair, and abusing Chronostasis is very easy to do on a New Game + when you start over with with an eight-point EP gauge and all of your EP abilities from the get-go. But while the combat wasn't necessarily the most challenging the vast majority of the time, I really appreciate what it offered and the freedom it allowed. Most people I've talked to regarding the final boss in particular had their own strategies for how they ended up besting him.

But that's getting off-track.

Even having played it back in the day, and having played and enjoyed Final Fantasy IV and VI before it, Final Fantasy VII had a lot to offer that was mind-blowing back then and is still surprising now. I went back to play it again not that long ago, and like @marokai said above, that moment when I finally left Midgar and saw the world map really made me take pause. Even knowing that there was a vast amount of game beyond Midgar, and a vast world, after spending the first eight or so hours running around in its cramped corridors and grimy environments, there's still that sense of awe upon finally leaving it.

I also admit to being somewhat jaded about Final Fantasy VII in the years since I first played it. There's a certain portion of the game's fanbase that can be offputting, and after playing other games in the series, and remembering Final Fantasy VI so fondly, my view of the game itself dimmed over time. But though people do complain about their existence, the various Final Fantasy VII side-projects that expanded the universe and lore really helped me remember why I liked Final Fantasy VII, and I actually enjoy those various projects in their own right as well. Heck, I even enjoyed Dirge of Cerberus (the PS2 action game starring Vincent), and to this day, I don't know many others that could really say the same on that. (Not that DoC isn't without its major flaws, the final boss fight is practically a joke, but it was a fun game.)

I really want to try Theatrhythm, but my stubborn belief in experiencing game music in-game before listening to it elsewhere makes me not want to play it. It also seems like it would be kind of goofy to play a fanservice-focussed game for a series I'm still mostly ignorant of.

You're right about the level scaling on the final boss. Turns out it only scales up for each character that's at maximum level.

Yeah, while I might have somewhat screwed up my playthrough with Chronostasis, I do think the degree to which Lightning Returns lets you break it was really interesting. I got to the boss of the HP-draining area (that's me clumsily trying to avoid spoilers) way before I think I was supposed to be there, and managed to devise a ridiculous strategy to abuse Imperil to keep him permanently stunlocked. It was stupid and extremely satisfying at the same time, which is the sense I get when I hear people gushing about Dark Souls.

I think I've gotten a taste of the insufferable subsets of the VII fanbase over the years, and I got a real good refresher today as I was finding footage on YouTube. I can totally see why people would get annoyed by the VII hardcore fans when many of them seem undiscerningly enthusiastic about a game a lot of old-school fans think marked a negative turning point in the series, especially since VII was such a blockbuster hit that those newcomer fans in some sense "won".

@believer258 said:

[...] If you set the battle system to "wait" in the options or config or whatever, then you can open up the items or magic menu and go eat a sandwich while thinking about your next move if you want to. The only time things will continue to happen is if you just leave it on the regular battle screen. "Active" won't wait for you while you're fumbling around for Hi-Potions, though.

Also on the battle system note, Final Fantasy X does not use the ATB system or any sort of variant where your turn can be interrupted while you're thinking about what's going on. I don't know if you've started it yet or even knew this, but I thought it was worth pointing out. You still have to participate in random battles but Tidus gets a "Flee" skill pretty early that (I think) always works.

On the issue of FFVI:

A lot of it comes down to the battle systems for me. If XIII had the traditional VI/VII ATB system, I'd be much less willing to deal with its many (many!) flaws. Likewise, if VI and VII had the Paradigm system, I'd be much more willing to deal with their flaws. In a weird way, I think getting into JPRGs by way of XIII has made it really difficult for me to deal with the less interesting (in my opinion, of course) battle systems of other games.

I ended up making it to the ending of the Floating Continent, right before the World of Ruin. I was already kind of forcing myself to keep playing, then got screwed by the RNG in a timed escape sequence and never came back to it. I might come back to it eventually, but my sense is that I'd have enjoyed the second half less than the first half, and I didn't enjoy the first half as much more than an academic exercize. I don't have any particular problem with FFVI, but I don't think it's for me. I feel like I've seen as much as I wanted to.

Given this bit, and given that you're tiring of random encounters, holding off on VI for a little while might be a good idea. Were you enjoying the story much? Even in 2014, that's the part that I think holds up the most. They tried to do so much with just a 16-bit JRPG and they really succeeded. FFVI's battle system was fine for me, though I'll agree that it's not as interesting as FFXIII's.

I was aware of the "wait" option, but it kind of felt like cheating to me. I figured that if I was going to play these games, I was going to play them they way they were intended. I believe VI's active option still pauses when you're in the items menu, as well as most (though not all) other menus. VII's "recommended" mode pauses for big animations, but not most others, and I'm not sure why they changed it.

I thought the story in VI was fine, but it didn't grab me anywhere near as much as VII's. I'd have to refresh myself on VI to speak in much detail, but in broad strokes, I think VI was badly-served by the size of its cast -- VII's restraint allows it to develop its characters more effectively. Aside from Terra, Locke, and Celes, most of the characters in VI felt pretty underdeveloped. To make the most obvious comparison, I had a much better sense of Aerith's character than I did of Terra's. I generally thought VII's world and story arcs were better-conceived and better-executed. I also didn't like Kefka at all, which I sense and appreciate is a minority opinion.

I also had quite a few problems with the original SNES localization -- it's better than VII in the sense that it's not full of typos, but it feels very abridged and rushed, which I know full well is because it was abridged and rushed as a result of unreasonable programming, memory, and time constraints. I often found myself having to speculate about what a character was trying to get at because their dialog either didn't make enough sense or didn't go into enough detail.

(To be clear, this is all where I'm coming from, not a declaration of principles. I'm fairly neutral about VI -- it just didn't conform well to my tastes.)

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#27 Posted by Hunter5024 (6706 posts) -

It's really cool to see someone genuinely enjoying this game for the first time. The number of times I've heard people say this game is only popular because of nostalgia is enough to make me choke. As for some of the story details that eluded you, I know a few of those things are explained in some dialogue you probably missed, but that's really no excuse for them, if it's important to the story they shouldn't let you miss them. Though I will say that I found the proper nouns in 13 much more egregious than 7, if only because they hit you up front in 13, whereas 7 doles them out over a while and they have a lot more self explanatory names.

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#28 Posted by CommodoreGroovy (623 posts) -

Nice write up. Final Fantasy VII was the first RPGs that I ever played, and it was one hell of an entry to the genre. I know people are dismissive over the zeitgeist surrounding FFVII, and outright pan it, but I always believed beneath all of that negativity, FFVII was a pretty cool game. Oh, and thank you for reminding me of that fantastic last dungeon theme too.

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#29 Posted by Hailinel (25785 posts) -

@hailinel said:


[...] The music in Final Fantasy VII is some of the best that Uematsu has ever done. It's a soundtrack with some of my favorite songs in the series, though there's a lot of good company with tracks from the rest of the series, as well. (Theatrhythm: Curtain Call comes out next week, and that's just going to be awesome!)

I'd say that if Final Fantasy VI isn't clicking with you by the end of the floating continent, the World of Ruin probably won't improve your view of the game too dramatically. The structure of the World of Ruin is much more open than the first half of the game, but it's mostly character-driven sidequests. The lone central plot point remaining at that point is entering Kefka's Tower and giving him a beat down. I still count Final Fantasy VI as one of my all-time favorite games for a lot of reasons, but it's also twenty years old, and I could understand not getting into it as much as might have been the case in 1994. (Oh god, I'm getting old.)

As for the final boss of Final Fantasy VII scaling to Cloud's level, I'm not sure if it's true, though Final Fantasy VIII leaned much more heavily on level scaling. It's unusual to have an RPG that could actually punish you for power leveling.

Lightning Returns has its share of shortcuts that can make getting through the main quests a quick affair, and abusing Chronostasis is very easy to do on a New Game + when you start over with with an eight-point EP gauge and all of your EP abilities from the get-go. But while the combat wasn't necessarily the most challenging the vast majority of the time, I really appreciate what it offered and the freedom it allowed. Most people I've talked to regarding the final boss in particular had their own strategies for how they ended up besting him.

But that's getting off-track.

Even having played it back in the day, and having played and enjoyed Final Fantasy IV and VI before it, Final Fantasy VII had a lot to offer that was mind-blowing back then and is still surprising now. I went back to play it again not that long ago, and like @marokai said above, that moment when I finally left Midgar and saw the world map really made me take pause. Even knowing that there was a vast amount of game beyond Midgar, and a vast world, after spending the first eight or so hours running around in its cramped corridors and grimy environments, there's still that sense of awe upon finally leaving it.

I also admit to being somewhat jaded about Final Fantasy VII in the years since I first played it. There's a certain portion of the game's fanbase that can be offputting, and after playing other games in the series, and remembering Final Fantasy VI so fondly, my view of the game itself dimmed over time. But though people do complain about their existence, the various Final Fantasy VII side-projects that expanded the universe and lore really helped me remember why I liked Final Fantasy VII, and I actually enjoy those various projects in their own right as well. Heck, I even enjoyed Dirge of Cerberus (the PS2 action game starring Vincent), and to this day, I don't know many others that could really say the same on that. (Not that DoC isn't without its major flaws, the final boss fight is practically a joke, but it was a fun game.)

I really want to try Theatrhythm, but my stubborn belief in experiencing game music in-game before listening to it elsewhere makes me not want to play it. It also seems like it would be kind of goofy to play a fanservice-focussed game for a series I'm still mostly ignorant of.

You're right about the level scaling on the final boss. Turns out it only scales up for each character that's at maximum level.

Yeah, while I might have somewhat screwed up my playthrough with Chronostasis, I do think the degree to which Lightning Returns lets you break it was really interesting. I got to the boss of the HP-draining area (that's me clumsily trying to avoid spoilers) way before I think I was supposed to be there, and managed to devise a ridiculous strategy to abuse Imperil to keep him permanently stunlocked. It was stupid and extremely satisfying at the same time, which is the sense I get when I hear people gushing about Dark Souls.

I think I've gotten a taste of the insufferable subsets of the VII fanbase over the years, and I got a real good refresher today as I was finding footage on YouTube. I can totally see why people would get annoyed by the VII hardcore fans when many of them seem undiscerningly enthusiastic about a game a lot of old-school fans think marked a negative turning point in the series, especially since VII was such a blockbuster hit that those newcomer fans in some sense "won".

I can understand not wanting to play Theatrhythm if you haven't listened to most of the music in their proper games yet. It's very much a nostalgia game, but the original was very well done and the sequel stands to be much better. It's definitely well worth checking out if you ever feel you're ready for it.

Yeah, that particular boss is, from my experience, easily the hardest boss of the main storyline, with the exclusion of the final boss. It's very telling, in that he's also the only boss that doesn't have a more difficult form if you wait until after Day 6 to take him on. Of course, the optional bosses are in a class of their own.

And there was a period where I was really salty toward those Final Fantasy VII uber-fans; particularly those that came into the franchise with that game and never touched the games that came before. But that was just something that I had to grow out of. I'm fine with that crowd now, as they're pretty much their own thing, and why should I let them inform how I feel about something?

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#30 Edited by Justin258 (15693 posts) -

@grantheaslip:

I thought the story in VI was fine, but it didn't grab me anywhere near as much as VII's. I'd have to refresh myself on VI to speak in much detail, but in broad strokes, I think VI was badly-served by the size of its cast -- VII's restraint allows it to develop its characters more effectively. Aside from Terra, Locke, and Celes, most of the characters in VI felt pretty underdeveloped. To make the most obvious comparison, I had a much better sense of Aerith's character than I did of Terra's. I generally thought VII's world and story arcs were better-conceived and better-executed. I also didn't like Kefka at all, which I sense and appreciate is a minority opinion.

I also had quite a few problems with the original SNES localization -- it's better than VII in the sense that it's not full of typos, but it feels very abridged and rushed, which I know full well is because it was abridged and rushed as a result of unreasonable programming, memory, and time constraints. I often found myself having to speculate about what a character was trying to get at because their dialog either didn't make enough sense or didn't go into enough detail.

Ah, well, the first half gathers and introduces you to pretty much all of the characters and the last half is where almost all of them get moments in the spotlight, though quite a bit of the last half is technically optional.

Also worth noting is that I tend to have a soft spot for pre-PS1 era games which probably contributed to how much I liked VI. I'll play VII one of these days but right now I've got at least a few hours in IX, X, XII, and XIII, so I should probably play those first.

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#31 Edited by StarvingGamer (11518 posts) -

Haven't read most of the blog yet but I just wanted to say that I'm someone who thinks FFVII is one of the poorer FF games but I'm also someone who has no problems with Nomura or his designs.

EDIT: Alright I read the rest of it. Good write-up. I disagree with most of it but that's all subjective so I don't have much to add. I'll just say that I didn't like the materia system because it made characters feel generic and interchangeable. The only defining aspect was the limit break, which meant you basically took Cloud and Tifa and Yuffie because theirs were the best. There was no advantage of any kind to using anyone else.

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#32 Edited by mosespippy (4751 posts) -

I played FFVII for the first time in 2006 and though it was great. You mentioned the scene with Zack and Could at a shootout. Do you know how you triggered that? I got it during my first play through but when I played it a second and third time years later I never saw it. It's a pretty important scene in Crisis Core, which is totally worth playing and quite a bit shorter.

I seem to remember reading something about the final boss scaling not only based on max level characters but also on whether or not the Weapons were defeated and if Knights of the Round was used during certain boss battles. That's all side content that you probably skipped, which made it much easier.

ATB battles have mostly felt like rote input to me, with very little room for complex strategies or interesting rhythms. VI and VII both give you lots of weird options, but I never really felt any incentive to use them when I was doing just fine mashing the attack command, unloading my most powerful spells on bosses, and healing when necessary. I had a sense that the bosses that were going to matter might be immune to debuffs, so I figured I'd be best off with as straightforward of a strategy as possible. The opaqueness of the attack queue also bugs me, because it means I don't have any kind of higher-level view of the flow of battle. The constant timer means that battles are an odd mix of watching meters fill up and frantically tearing through menus. XIII's not altogether different in that respect, but because the auto command was usually what I wanted, I didn't feel so hurried most of the time. That auto command also sidesteps the homework of keeping track of enemy weaknesses, which I've never really enjoyed in any RPG except maybe Pokemon.

This is sort of a different issue, but I also appreciate the way XIII does away with mana and auto-recharges your health between fights. If mana's a resource I have to worry about, it means I have a strong disincentive to do cool things. That and the lack of random battles made going through combat areas a lot more pleasant and interesting experience. I started playing Tales of Vesperia last night and I'm already feeling a palpable relief in not having to worry about random battles.

I think you'll really like the combat in XII. You basically set up a series of if-then-else statements to automate the basic combat, but then you can take control of any member at any time and do any actions that are necessary outside of the routine combat. You don't have random battles; the enemies are visible on the battlefield and you can walk up to them, run away or avoid them at any time. There is a system that is kind of like limit breaks, which you can chain into like a 20+ hit combo, but the cost is your mana. The mana meter is broken up into three chunks and you can spend one, two or three chunks of mana on an attack, or you might get the option to fully refill your mana so you can keep the chain going.

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#33 Edited by Demoskinos (17461 posts) -

Good stuff! I'd be interested to see what you'd think of the Draw/Junction system in FF8. And don't worry I've been playing final fantasy games for years and my favorite is still XIII. Lightning is great!

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#34 Edited by Mcfart (2064 posts) -

Fuck you FF6 rocks...I loved the story/characters (tho ya the combat was lame), and the fact that multiple characters were developed enough to do a "protaginist" switch was cool.

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#35 Posted by JoshtheValiant (69 posts) -

@viciousbearmauling: Seconded on FFX. I tried multiple times to play through FFVII, but the furthest I ever got was Cid becoming the lead character. I never could follow the story beats in this game, which is a bummer, because the points about characters and materia customization both ring real true to me.

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#36 Posted by BongChilla (364 posts) -

Advent Children is not a movie you go into hoping it will expand on the story in meaningful ways. That movie is a CG anime that is pretty much a 90 minute summon animation. If you go into watching it for that reason alone than it's alright.

I've never played it but Crisis Core is supossed to be very good and that cut scene in VII is handled in a very cool way I've heard.

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#37 Posted by Justin258 (15693 posts) -

@nebbxii said:

Good read. I consider myself a big-time fanboy of FF7. I played when it first came out in 1997, but I was too young to understand the game. To date I am still trying to make a full 100% completion of the game in its entirety and I'm driven to make it happen. I've always had an interest in world mythology and over the years I came to understand that FF7 is a compilation of all world mythology. There's the obvious summon-gods: Shiva, Ifrit, Hades, Odin, Alexander. There's also some more subtle references. The city of Midgar is close to Midgarde, or Middle-Earth in Norse myth. Cloud's motorcycle is named Fenris. Fenris is a mythological wolf that ate the hand* of Balder, god of light and beauty (Norse). I've heard that the name Sephiroth is a reference to an Egyptian god but recently I read that in the Tarot Tree of Life a Sephiroth is a sphere representing stages in human evolution. The meteor that Sephiroth summons to destroy the planet is the Sumerian Nemesis that was expected to destroy earth in 2012. References to this can be seen in the Black Temple in pictograms. There is so much more and I continue to find new bits of information as the years go by. No matter how many times I pick the game back up I am learning a new facet of it.

You should probably re-check your findings on Sephiroth. Start here.

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#38 Posted by planetfunksquad (1545 posts) -

You think the word "planet" is more ridiculous than the word "fal'cie"? What?

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#39 Edited by GrantHeaslip (1869 posts) -

Haven't read most of the blog yet but I just wanted to say that I'm someone who thinks FFVII is one of the poorer FF games but I'm also someone who has no problems with Nomura or his designs.

EDIT: Alright I read the rest of it. Good write-up. I disagree with most of it but that's all subjective so I don't have much to add. I'll just say that I didn't like the materia system because it made characters feel generic and interchangeable.

I totally didn't mean to say that every FFVII skeptic had a problem with Nomura -- I was mostly just relaying the loudest sentiments I've heard about the game.

I agree with you there to some degree about Materia, but it seemed to me that you could use Espers to much the same effect. The differences in base stats are pretty huge though -- you could technically spec Barret as a magic-user, but it wouldn't make much sense given how low his base magic stat is, and how high his HP and strength are.

I played FFVII for the first time in 2006 and though it was great. You mentioned the scene with Zack and Could at a shootout. Do you know how you triggered that? I got it during my first play through but when I played it a second and third time years later I never saw it. It's a pretty important scene in Crisis Core, which is totally worth playing and quite a bit shorter. [...]

I think you'll really like the combat in XII. You basically set up a series of if-then-else statements to automate the basic combat, but then you can take control of any member at any time and do any actions that are necessary outside of the routine combat. You don't have random battles; the enemies are visible on the battlefield and you can walk up to them, run away or avoid them at any time. There is a system that is kind of like limit breaks, which you can chain into like a 20+ hit combo, but the cost is your mana. The mana meter is broken up into three chunks and you can spend one, two or three chunks of mana on an attack, or you might get the option to fully refill your mana so you can keep the chain going.

I triggered it while getting Vincent in the Shinra Mansion in Nibelheim. I had talked to him, and triggered that cutscene when I was expecting the "can I join you?" cutscene, which made it even more weird and unexpected. I believe it triggered when I entered the room with the two containment vats at the bottom right. This is right at the end of disc 2, as I was cleaning up loose ends before entering the endgame.

I'm intrigued by XII. If they put it out in a form I can play without a PS2, I'll give it a shot. Knowing Square Enix, it will probably get remade at some point.

Good stuff! I'd be interested to see what you'd think of the Draw/Junction system in FF8. And don't worry I've been playing final fantasy games for years and my favorite is still XIII. Lightning is great!

I have no idea what the Junction system even is, but I've heard it mentioned in passing a bunch of times. I get the sense that it's pretty divisive.

Advent Children is not a movie you go into hoping it will expand on the story in meaningful ways. That movie is a CG anime that is pretty much a 90 minute summon animation. If you go into watching it for that reason alone than it's alright.

I've never played it but Crisis Core is supossed to be very good and that cut scene in VII is handled in a very cool way I've heard.

I figure I basically have an obligation to see Advent Children, if just to see what they did with the characters. It seems weirdly well-received, if Metacritic is any indication.

Crisis Core in unfortunately (and bafflingly) not available on PSN, but I do hope to get a chance to play it at some point.

You think the word "planet" is more ridiculous than the word "fal'cie"? What?

No, but I do think I have a better grasp on what the fal'Cie actually were than I do of what the Planet was, in concrete terms. My point is more that, in my opinion, and in aggregate, I think XIII explained its lore way better than VII. A lot of the stuff in VII is hand-waved into existence in a way that only barely makes sense and leaves a lot unexplained. I'm receptive to someone disagreeing with me about that, but I do think that it's kind of ridiculous to complain about XIII's inscrutability without acknowledging that it's not that far out of the ordinary in the series or genre. The Datapad entries were a cop-out, but at least it empowered you to fill in the gaps.

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#40 Posted by Hailinel (25785 posts) -


@demoskinos said:

Good stuff! I'd be interested to see what you'd think of the Draw/Junction system in FF8. And don't worry I've been playing final fantasy games for years and my favorite is still XIII. Lightning is great!

I have no idea what the Junction system even is, but I've heard it mentioned in passing a bunch of times. I get the sense that it's pretty divisive.

The Junction system is what Final Fantasy VIII depends on for truly powering up your characters. You basically equip a Guardian Force (summon) to a character, and each GF has slots in which you junction spells. And junctioning spells has a direct effect on your character's stats. While there's a standard experience leveling mechanic in the game as well, the game actually discourages you from power-leveling to a great extent because all of the enemies in the game are level scaled. If you want truly power up, you have to master junctioning while refraining from overleveling. But this also ties into the magic drawing mechanic, which is time-consuming and is largely what people complain about when it comes to the system itself.

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#41 Posted by TobbRobb (6591 posts) -

Nice writeup, this is pretty spot on for my feelings of 7, with the only real exception that I played it years ago and have a more nostalgic affection for it.

Also 13 is good, but said nostalgic affection will not acknowledge it to be better. :P

I think 6 has the highest highs of FF soundtracks, while 7 and 10 are more solid overall. 10 is probably my favorite, but it's a toss-up.

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#42 Posted by eskimo (513 posts) -

It's been a while since I've thought about FFVII. Most of the talk I see about it these days revolves around how over rated it is/was, yet it had a profound impact on me when I played it back in '97. I had no idea what I was getting into, and it just grew and grew in scope and I got so incredibly invested in the characters, plot, and story.

You've reminded me of why I thought it was special, thanks for that :)

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#43 Edited by StarvingGamer (11518 posts) -

@grantheaslip: Sure, but Espers required a time investment to learn their spells. Materia in 7 could be hot-swapped more-or-less at-will. Also magic in 6 was only a small part of combat as most characters relied more on their character-specific skills in encounters of every size.

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#44 Edited by Daneian (1308 posts) -

Man, i dont know what it is but it seems like i've been hearing a lot of people going back to older Final Fantasy games lately. Maybe I'm just noticing it because i'm finally playing through the DS version of 4 for the first time right now. Anyways, because of that, i've been thinking about the Active Time Battle system some myself, especially since 4 was the first game to implement it and it has been used and modified so many times in the entries that have followed.

I'm not saying the ATB system is perfect, but i do like the action-forward layer of twitch it brings to the combat. I agree, it makes the gameplay frantic, but i think that's ultimately a benefit. It forces you to focus, and in doing so is able to trigger all sorts of emotions because its got you by the balls. There's tension in watching that bar fill up in anticipation of your move and it creates a palpable sense of dread that the enemy will get to act first, requiring you to alter your choice to compensate, even in a span of a fraction of a second. A weird side effect to it is that you're so hyper focused on selecting actions, the downtime between inputs can seem to take fucking forever because you're so invested. There are times when it makes the game feel slower, but i honestly cant tell if thats just a trick of the mind or not.

Tangentially, the DS version of 4 also added a casting timer on top of the ATB so you know exactly when your party members will act, which i think is great and want to know if the original had that as well, since none of the others do as far as i know.

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#45 Edited by Hailinel (25785 posts) -

@grantheaslip: Sure, but Espers required a time investment to learn their spells. Materia in 7 could be hot-swapped more-or-less at-will. Also magic in 6 was only a small part of combat as most characters relied more on their character-specific skills in encounters of every size.

While that is true, in the late game, the magicite/magic system can easily break combat. The first time I beat FFVI, I roflstomped my way through the final dungeon and bosses because everyone could cast Ultima at will, and most were doing max damage with each casting.

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#46 Posted by Justin258 (15693 posts) -

@hailinel said:

@starvinggamer said:

@grantheaslip: Sure, but Espers required a time investment to learn their spells. Materia in 7 could be hot-swapped more-or-less at-will. Also magic in 6 was only a small part of combat as most characters relied more on their character-specific skills in encounters of every size.

While that is true, in the late game, the magicite/magic system can easily break combat. The first time I beat FFVI, I roflstomped my way through the final dungeon and bosses because everyone could cast Ultima at will, and most were doing max damage with each casting.

I don't know how Materia worked in FFVII, but I finished FFVI earlier this year and did the exact same thing. FFVI can definitely be fun but it also isn't hard to break, especially in the latter half. You don't even need to do a ridiculous amount of grinding, about one podcast's worth is more than enough. Combat-wise, I haven't played a Final Fantasy that was better than XIII, though that was helped by how damn rigid leveling was. Also X is coming pretty close, I might wind up enjoying its combat more.

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#47 Edited by StarvingGamer (11518 posts) -

@hailinel: Yeah, but it seems like an odd criticism to say that by min/maxing like crazy and grinding you could trivialize the end boss. The same is true for every JRPG and FF7 is one of the most egregious examples of this with how easy it was to go into Sephiroth with a party decked out with mastered Yellow Magic and Knights of the Round Materia. They give you a room specifically for grinding and a portable save-point you could plop right in there, after all.

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#48 Posted by Slag (8164 posts) -

@grantheaslip said:

ATB battles have mostly felt like rote input to me, with very little room for complex strategies or interesting rhythms. VI and VII both give you lots of weird options, but I never really felt any incentive to use them when I was doing just fine mashing the attack command, unloading my most powerful spells on bosses, and healing when necessary. I had a sense that the bosses that were going to matter might be immune to debuffs, so I figured I'd be best off with as straightforward of a strategy as possible. The opaqueness of the attack queue also bugs me, because it means I don't have any kind of higher-level view of the flow of battle. The constant timer means that battles are an odd mix of watching meters fill up and frantically tearing through menus. XIII's not altogether different in that respect, but because the auto command was usually what I wanted, I didn't feel so hurried most of the time. That auto command also sidesteps the homework of keeping track of enemy weaknesses, which I've never really enjoyed in any RPG except maybe Pokemon.

This is sort of a different issue, but I also appreciate the way XIII does away with mana and auto-recharges your health between fights. If mana's a resource I have to worry about, it means I have a strong disincentive to do cool things. That and the lack of random battles made going through combat areas a lot more pleasant and interesting experience. I started playing Tales of Vesperia last night and I'm already feeling a palpable relief in not having to worry about random battles.

There is some truth to that. I wouldn't call the battle strategies complex, usually the trick was surviving the boss fight pattern until you could discern what it was and then develop your own to counter it.

Part of that was likely due to hardware limitations & design philosophies back in the day, but also I think maybe you are not seeing the whole picture on how ATB works. Or maybe you do and I'm just unaware of it, and you just don't like what they offer which is perfectly ok.

My recollection was the older Final Fantasy games, including the ATB ones, were all about mini-expeditions and management of resources (like mana as you mentioned) especially when going into a dungeon. The Flow of Battle is more in the Flow of multiple Battles as opposed to a singular one. You had limited save opportunities and were journeying off into the unknown often in dungeons with branching paths. If you had identifiable enemies on the map instead of random encounters, that would take the suspense element of managing of your resource out of it (Since you could count the fights etc). You didn't know how far you had to go, whether there would be save points or not (there usually was at least one), and what sort of enemies and bosses you may face. By having recharging health and mana, you wouldn't have resources you had to manage and in many cases conserve.

You still get to do "cool things" but you had to think about when you could do them. This is a little similar idea to what Dark Souls does or Monster Hunter does with animation priority. The action is still there, it's just more deliberate. Which in my opinion heightens their value of things like spells, because it gives the moments when you do use them have large significance. It's kinda like Arena League Football vs NFL football imo, In Arena League there's constant scoring which is in some ways what people want to see. But on the other hand it really unbalances football because it really devalues the touchdown and offense in general, by making it not special and an expected outcome. It removes the tension and suspense of whether a touchdown will happen or not. In some ways I think that's similar to what Thirteen and games like it did to spells (although FF Xiii does a much better job than the AFL in keeping it interesting by retaining the suspense of outcome through the speed element).

Trash mob random encounter fights had value in the aggregate, because you didn't know how many of them you had to survive to get to the boss and if you were too aggressive in dealing with any individual fight you could be out of resources to fight the fight the boss adequately when you get there. You had to weigh things like whether exploration/treasure hunting was worth the potential risk of running into too many encounters. The ATB's purpose was to speed up the individual fights to keep them from bogging down and to add some punch to some otherwise rote trash mobs.

So yes it does reward straightforward physical attacks, because there is no accompanying stamina resource to manage. They are essentially free damage, probably if done today that would hopefully be balanced better. Physical dmg is perhaps too easy an answer for those systems, perhaps its greatest shortcoming besides the obvious incentive to over-hoard consumables. And as others have mentioned many iterations of FF battle systems were broken in ways that made them easy to cheese once you discovered how.

This of course all became obsolete/ineffective once RPGs let you save anywhere/anywhen. And if expedition and resource mgt isn't something you enjoy (and it sounds like you don't), well then you probably won't like most of the older FF games. Starting from FF1 up through IX really this is more or less the way it was, especially Pre-V.

The rock/paper/scissors of enemy weaknesses and tearing through menu issues I never considered. I usually had those memorized or instinctively knew them from having played the previous entries sequentially (often commands were in similar spots in the menus) so that was usually very easy for me. Most bestiary entries in Final Fantasy games tend to be heavily derivative of previous games and RPG tropes of that era. So the game never felt fast or frantic to me. But Now that you mention I could see how playing FFVi or FFVii without that prior knowledge could be irritating and stressful.

That being said I do agree with I think FF Xiii's battle system is better when it is actually in a fight I loved the rhythm and speed of it, and it should be, games today can do a lot of things that games back then couldn't. And well frankly design hopefully is smart today. But I do think the trash mob battles, even though they are visible on the map, almost seem out of place in FFXiii without the resource management aspect and exploration aspects. I'm not entirely sure why they are there at all, other than to level grind a bit. I do really miss the exploration and over world elements of the older Final Fantasy games.

ATB is definitely old as heck, so maybe I'm just crusty with nostalgia. :)

just to comment on your other observations- the rest of what you said I largely agree with.

6&7 I think are Uematsu's best work in the series. I think you could make an argument for either being superior

Totally agree that FFVii's mythology was much more impenetrable and nonsensical than Xiii's. Even to this I'm not sure of what certain parts of the game meant despite having consumed most of the Vii auxiliary stuff (Dirge of Cerberus, Advent Children etc. ). I mainly chalked that up to translation issues. The reason I think a lot people think Xiii's is more jargon heavy despite the nonsensical nature of Vii's world at times, the way Vii parsed that world building info to the player felt significantly (NPC dialog) more immersive to the player than Xiii's datalog buried in the menus.

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#49 Posted by Hailinel (25785 posts) -

@hailinel: Yeah, but it seems like an odd criticism to say that by min/maxing like crazy and grinding you could trivialize the end boss. The same is true for every JRPG and FF7 is one of the most egregious examples of this with how easy it was to go into Sephiroth with a party decked out with mastered Yellow Magic and Knights of the Round Materia. They give you a room specifically for grinding and a portable save-point you could plop right in there, after all.

That's fair. Final Fantasy VII does offer more than its share of opportunity to overpower the final boss. Though I would argue that the requirements for getting Knights of the Round are more complex than what it takes to acquire Ultima in FFVI, making it more of a challenge.

@slag said:

Totally agree that FFVii's mythology was much more impenetrable and nonsensical than Xiii's. Even to this I'm not sure of what certain parts of the game meant despite having consumed most of the Vii auxiliary stuff (Dirge of Cerberus, Advent Children etc. ). I mainly chalked that up to translation issues. The reason I think a lot people think Xiii's is more jargon heavy despite the nonsensical nature of Vii's world at times, the way Vii parsed that world building info to the player felt significantly (NPC dialog) more immersive to the player than Xiii's datalog buried in the menus.

Final Fantasy VII's mythology grew far more complex as the story was expanded. Though it did help give more depth to certain characters, and more background to a number of events, there are also elements that have remained obtuse in comparison to the plot and presentation of Final Fantasy XIII. But it's also true that VII and XIII are very different games with different aims in their storytelling. XIII drops you into its world cold among characters that are already aware of the nature of their surroundings, and they don't really have time to chat with the locals, whereas VII starts you off in the shoes of a character with a muddled memory and a world that is familiar, yet he's also the outsider in the organization he's just begun to work for. In that sense, the datalog in FFXIII is of greater assistance than it might be in VII, but it's use is not a requirement to understand the goings on. Similarly, a datalog could have been useful in FFVII, though of greater importance would have been simply a better localization.

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#50 Edited by Fredchuckdave (10824 posts) -

@starvinggamer: Characters are generic and interchangeable in quite a few Final Fantasies, including Tactics. Though I suppose it is just another factor which makes IV the best. Limit Breaks are the main distinction in FFVII and FFVIII, just in VIII you get to use them whenever you want and that's a pretty huge deal. Compared to III and V the Final Fantasy VII characters are extremely varied.

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