4-One Retro Corner: Final Fantasy VII

final fantasy vii19 years ago Final Fantasy VII was released on the Playstation. Credited as not only  the game to make JRPGs popular outside of Japan, but also “the game that sold the PlayStation” it is sure to be remembered as one of the most iconic titles of the 90s.

The game was four years in development before it’s release in 1997. It was directed by Yoshinori Kitase, written by Kazushige Nojima and Kitasy, produced by Hironobu Sakaguchi and had Tetsuya Nomura working on character design. These people were also involved in many other Final Fantasy titles, including the upcoming remake of Final Fantasy VII.

The game tells the story of Cloud Strife, supposed former member of soldier. Cloud joins forces with the vigilante group Avalanche as a mercenary for hire as they attempt to save the planet from the Shinra corporation. It is not just Shinra Avalanche need to deal with however, as they need to contend with someone that Cloud used to look up to, Sephiroth. There are side stories related to each of the characters that are added to the party along the way.

The battle system used the classic Active Time Battle (ATB) system that was first introduced in Final Fantasy IV. Fights take place either randomly or through certain events and featured only three party members, unlike previous games where four or five party members could be used. There were no classes in Final Fantasy VII either, and each character could equip whatever materia was available meaning any of the characters could summon and cast magicks, they did differ in their limit breaks however which themselves changed over the course of the game. Check out the limit breaks in the video below.

A lot of work was put in to the design of the game above all else, as it was the first fully 3D Final Fantasy game and in the end there was over 40 minutes of FMV scenes included in the game. Nomura’s designs didn’t begin life as you see them now either. Cloud originally had slicked back hair, but this was changed to the spikey headed blonde we have come to know. Vincent Valentine also went through several redesigns and began as a researcher, then a chemist and finally his story as a former Turk.

The game included many mini games, including a snowboarding game and chocobo racing. Players could also raise chocobos in an attempt to get that much sought after gold chocobo. There was an area on the world map that could only be reached by the gold chocobo. Raising your chocobos was the only way to obtain certain materias such as the Knights of the Round summon. These were essential if you wanted to beat some of the end game bosses.

The soundtrack, like all Final Fantasy soundtracks is fantastic. Composed by the legendary Nobuo Uematsu, it is one of my favourites after the Final Fantasy 6 soundtrack. There were certain areas in the game I used to just stand around so I could listen to the music. The train graveyard, just outside Midgar and Vincent’s basement are three of these areas I just adored the music in.

Although I don’t think FFVII is the best game in the series it is definitely a memorable one, and a turning point in the series. I have many fond memories of staying up all night playing and being very tired going in to school in the morning. Have you any memories of Final Fantasy VII? What was your favourite area or part in the story? Who was your favourite character? Let us know!


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