Format: PS1 & PC
Release date: 1997
I’m not sure what to tell you about FF7. Simply put, it’s one of my all-time favourite games, and the hordes of fans it has makes me feel like a bit of a cliché to even include it in this feature. But I have to. It changed my life, I think. Before this, I had not played a game with such a deep and engaging story, an epic tale about a host of very likable characters, all unique and fleshed out with interesting back stories. It’s just wonderful.
I have played it through about 4 times to completion, and vowed that the most recent one in 2013 would be the last time. But as I reflect on it now, I realise that I will have to experience it again one day. If only to hear the mesmerising soundtrack, a powerful nostalgia that is unmatched with any other film or videogame.
It’s funny, because the first time I played the game, I didn’t even complete it. My friend Adam traded his PS1 with me for 6 months: he wanted to play Ocarina of Time and insisted that I play FF7. It took me about a month to make it out of Midgar, the sprawling starting location in the game, a filthy slum ridden city. Adam completed OOT in that time and begun his second play through. I made it to Junon, and met the playful Mr Dolphin, who helps you leap up to a platform that connects to a Shinra military base, and since it’s a little bit tricky, I got stuck and gave up for the night to go eat my dinner.
I never picked the PS1 game up again after that.
In school, Adam kept asking me if I’d gotten past Mr Dolphin yet, and the truth was I hadn’t even tried, but the official story became that I was stuck and couldn’t get past him for 6 months, during which Adam had beaten OOT for a second time and maybe even a third, when he decided he wanted his PS1 back. At some point during all of this, a fat annoying schoolmate spoiled one of the most dramatic moments in the entire game for me with a single sentence. The game is well beyond spoiler territory by now, but this particular spoiler was my very first, and changed the way I looked at them forever so I can’t bring myself to write down exactly what he said for fear of ruining it for somebody else. But by blanking out the character in question, this is what he said to me while I was still on disc 1 of a 4 disc game: “Has [******] died yet?”
Ugh. What. A. Dick.
I’m over it now. I think. Well, clearly not as here I am reflecting on it 20 bloody years later! But I did eventually buy the game on PC (a terrible port, frankly). I overcame the nefarious Mr Dolphin, and saw the story through to its completion. That moment would have been epic had it not been utterly spoiled for me, but it didn’t stop me from soaking up the rest of the angsty, twisting story of Cloud, Tifa, Aeris, Barret and Red XIII… To this day, it’s the only Final Fantasy game I have managed to complete. I tried VIII, but it never grabbed me, XIII was boring, and I did finally get X when it was re-released in HD on Steam, but I didn’t finish it. None of them will top VII. Oh sod it, I might just reinstall it this week…