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The Drunken Nerd Takes it Back to Midgar

So there I was drinking an ice cold Rolling Rock, playing Batman: Arkham City for the third time and it hit me – some video games are just timeless classics for fans like us.

Take Arkham City for example – I never get tired of playing it. I’m playing through it a third time because I felt it necessary just to re-introduce myself to the storyline before I go about beating the new DLC, Harley’s  Quinn’s Revenge.  Playing Arkham City wasn’t the only reason I decided to write this particular piece for my column this week, however. No, a conversation with a co-worker (and video game enthusiast like myself) named JB, about E3 and up-coming games triggered a side discussion about legendary games that demand a re-make. Naturally, the number one game we talked about was the one and only, Final Fantasy VII.

FFVII is arguably the most-influential RPG of all-time and perhaps Square’s (now SquareCinx) best work ever. Certain games are considered ground-breaking, some historical, some technological masterpieces, and others stand-apart. FFVII was all that and more. It revolutionized gaming and how gamers looked at and played games. Like Arkham City, it turned into a game that gamers loved and played over and over again.

It entrapped you. Before you even put the game into your Playstation (or PS2), you were already in awe. Never before had we seen a game in the States that was three discs.  The game immediately formed an epic reputation for itself before you even turned your console on.

Then, when you finally did decide to pop the first of the three discs in you experienced an opening scene filled with never-before seen graphics. Gamers were unexpectedly introduced to high-definition before anyone knew what HD was. Such stunning visuals set the tone for the upcoming journey into Midgar and into the world of FFVII where the hero, Cloud, would save the world and save the Lifestream.

Not to shabby for graphics in 1997, if you ask me

 

The main plot of FFVII was brilliant, but what made the game so great was the amount of detail and the number of side missions one could partake in. I can’t tell you how many tries it took me to find the right combination of materia on my weapons/armor (I think it was my second play-through that I fully understood how to use materia effectively). The cast of characters Cloud meets along his journey and each of those characters’ side stories hypnotized you making you feel included within the storyline. You weren’t just playing, you were living the story.

Final Fantasy was always a turn-based fighting system, which turned some gamers off, but in FFVII we were introduced to limit-breaks. A way for characters to use a special feature that was unique to their personality and fighting style. It effectively improved the turn-based system, especially with the low-health-limit-break only usage built in the game.

The infamous Sephiroth

The introduction of mini-games in FFVII only added to the fun of and admiration for the game-play. Never before had gamers seen a game inside of a game the way we did in FFVII. Plain and simple, The Gold Saucer was the bees-knees. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent Chocoboo Racing (capturing and training the right Chocoboo) or how many hours I spent in the arcade at the Golden Saucer – boxing, snowboarding, biking, you name it – I probably spent twenty-plus hours on those mini-games alone.

FFVII had it all. A great story, breath-taking graphics and visual effects, fantastic game-play, a villain you loved to hate and a hero who you could relate to. I’ll be honest, I’ve received a number of shocks and ensuing discontent after I say this, but it’s only fair to share it with you all, I’ve actually never beaten Final Fantasy VII. I’ve played through it at least six or seven times completely, but I could never bring myself to actually beat the game. I could never leave the Highwind and enter the Northern Cave to face the final battle against Sephiroth, simply because I didn’t want the game to end.

 

And that’s my point, some games we play just hold a special spot in our hearts. Do they deserve a re-make? As fans we should say yes, but as realists all we can do is re-play them again and again and appreciate them for the master-pieces they are and the memories they’ve instilled in us. A toast to Final Fantasy VII, a game I’ll always play and never beat.

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About the author

Neil Strebig

1 Comment

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  • I have to say PlayStation has done itself a great disservice by removing backwards compatibility. More knowledgeable friends of mine assure me the PS3 will have an update someday to play PS2 games. A big reason I chose PS2 over Xbox was because of the larger library.

    Now I’ve gone to the dark side with Xbox 360. But I won’t get rid of my PS2. Just to replay those classic games.

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