FFVII: Again for the first time
I’ve long considered myself a big Final Fantasy fan, but for someone who talks about the series so much, I’ve always considered it something of a shameful secret that I’ve never played more than a couple of hours of the game that many people consider to be the greatest RPG of all time, Final Fantasy VII.
I played the original Final Fantasy as a kid on an old 8-bit NES, but never owned a Super Nintendo, so if pushed I would have to admit that for a long time I preferred the competing Dragon Warrior series (now known as the Dragon Quest series). There were four Dragon Warrior games released for the NES, and I played through at least two of them (which wasn’t bad for a 10-year-old). While it’s common knowledge now that there were three Final Fantasy games for the NES in Japan, only the first one made it to the US, and it was really long, pretty hard, and compared to the original Dragon Warrior, kind of dull. Sure Final Fantasy gave you four playable characters to Dragon Warrior’s one, and even better, you could choose between warriors, fighters, thieves, and mages, but in Dragon Warrior, the princess had the hots for me, and even though I could only fight one monster at a time, they just looked cooler than the bad guys in Final Fantasy.
Final Fantasy II (which was actually the fourth game in the series, if the Japanese games were included) changed all this. It was a revelation. The graphics and music blew my mind, but even better, I was playing actual characters with actual stories. Palom and Porom are still my all-time favorite FF characters. I would buy a Palom and Porom game. (You hear me, Squre Enix? Get on it!)
For all that, this was right about where I dropped out of console gaming. I’m not sure I even knew at the time that there was a third game released in the US. I came back in when I played Final Fantasy X on my roommate’s PS2 in 2002. It’s still my favorite game of the series.
I picked up Final Fantasy VII back in 2004, when the store where I worked was having a clearance sale on Playstation games. I plugged it into my brother’s PS2 and played for a couple of hours, but didn’t make it very far. My wife, infant daughter, and I were living with my parents at the time. I was working a lot of nights. I didn’t have a lot of free time, and the game, well, looked kind of muddy after the gorgeous PS2 and GameCube games I had been playing. When my family moved out on our own, we took my GameCube but not the PS2, so FFVII went back on the shelf.
So I’m really excited to plug my FFVII disc into my PS3 and give it another go. I’m looking at the game with fresh eyes as much as I can, but don’t worry too much about spoilers—I’m a strategy guide kind of guy, I’ll admit, and I do already know what happens to Aerith (is it possible not to?), although I don’t know exactly when it happens, so I’m hoping there’s a surprise or two left in the old game.