Forget Call of Duty, Real Men Need the Retro Love: Final Fantasy VII

Whatever your personal opinions regarding video game behemoth Final Fantasy (staunch fanatisism, tooth-gnashing, bowel-loosening hatred and casually scratching your ballsack on the couch in a state of zen indifference are all viable options), one fact can’t be contested: the seventh installment remains, as Will Ferrell would say -when he isn’t otherwise occupied starring in thoroughly wanktacular holiday movies like Elf- kind of a big deal.

Final Fantasy VII is renowned for nigh singlehandedly giving the RPG genre the mild, energizing electric shock right in the wang that it needed to gain momentum outside its native Japan. As such, it is often to be found languishing somewhere up there on gaming’s Mount Olympus with the other superstars (taking illicit drugs with Ocarina of Time, signing the bare chesticles of groupies with Super Mario 64, the usual hotel-room-demolishing capers rock stars like to indulge in). Nary a ‘best of all time’ list will pass this game by.

Final Fantasy VII Screenshot 2For the uninitiated (y’know, any member of those obscure forest tribes in the Amazon who give no shits about the soul-stealing abilities of modern technology and happen to be surfing them thar interwebs), the game begins by thrusting us into the conflict between eco-warrior group Avalanche and the government assholery of Shinra Inc, a huge, unscrupulous company savaging the planet in its special place with their many resource-ravaging Mako reactors. A childhood friend of our protagonist, Cloud Strife, begs for his aid to save the planet (which they plan to do by blowing shit up. Several times).

At which point, the proverbial fan is hit with a large quantity of shit. When a old war buddy/homicidal village-burning and murderizing nutbag by the name of Sephiroth resurfaces (he wasn’t even slightly as dead as we thought), the fan is switched on and some poor bastard in coveralls has to spend hours mopping turd-flecks off of the kitchen linoleum. That is to say, the usual pursuing a really-rather-bastardly villain across an expansive world map accompanied by all manner of freakish characters that all fantasists -as franchise fans should and will be known- are familiar with sets in.

As Sephiroth’s motives and intentions are made plain, and his shenanigans culminate in SENDING A GODDAMN METEOR PLUMMETING PLANET-WARDS, there’s a remarkable sense of escalating crisis here. It’s a compelling story, which is a crucial component in an RPG.

Final Fantasy VII Screenshot 1

Gah! It's Emerald Weapon! Anyone familiar with 'that huge green son-of-a-bastard that savaged me. Six times' knows that it's spare underpants time at around this point.

It is also significantly more accessible than some, with the materia system (with which you can equip magical orbs to limited slots in your weapon and armor to cast spells in battle or otherwise buff your characters’ abilities) enabling you to govern your party’s growth in a manner that wasn’t overly convoluted and/or hideously craptacular (“Hi, Final Fantasy VIII and your junctioning capers! How are you? Still sucking? I thought so”). These factors, the quirky cast (huge Mr. T-esque dude with what can only be described as a huge-ass cannon grafted onto one arm in place of a hand is the very definition of ‘quirky.’ Check the dictionary, naysayers! Except don’t) and more than a little nostalgia for the first taste of Final Fantasy many gamers ever had all combine to make this 1997 release something rather special indeed.

The game has its shortcomings, certainly. Being born in the pioneering era of 3d video game-ery, it looks rather horrifying. Huge square hands that wouldn’t look out of place on the Elephant Man’s unfortunate frame and blur-tacular blurriness with blur on are abundant here. The translation, too, is of a comically woeful standard, as might be expected of the first Final Fantasy installment to see a European release. Grammatical ineptitude, dumbass spelling and even the acclaimed “this guy are sick” can be found within. Nonetheless, its renown endures. Whether you’d conclude overrated or simply rated, this is surely among the most popular titles in this franchise (and many others).

Source of images: gamefaqs

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