Ah, Final Fantasy VII, a game I kind of want to skip over when it comes to reviews. I think the perfect word to describe the game is hype. That’s what got the game to mainstream success, and the factor that still keeps it going today. While hype itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the problem is when something has gained so much hype, that it then crumbles and creates a massive hype backlash, thus creating a dedicated hatedom. This is why the majority of the time FF7 is mentioned, it’s usually in the extremes: over-enthusiastic fanboys, and outright hatred. Usually these camps overshadow anyone else who has a less biased opinion on the game.
Well why is this mostly just for FF7, why not any of the other games in the series? One of the biggest reasons, is that FF7 had a massive marketing campaign. The Playstation was Sony’s first game console, and they were looking for that one killer app that would place them on the market, and that game was FF7. Final Fantasy was originally released on Nintendo consoles, but when they announced that the N64 was going to use cartridges instead of CD’s, Square decided to leave, because their new game was not going to fit onto a cartridge, and they chose Sony’s Playstation.
Sony knew that the Final Fantasy series was a critically acclaimed series on Nintendo consoles, so they were placing their cards all on the success of the latest entry to sell their console. So they advertised the living shit out of it. This then skyrocketed the game and also the console to superstardom.
While I mentioned in a previous blog about how this massive popularity started the first rift in the FF fandom, at the time this was a small minority in the fandom. Many fans of the series were very pleased with FF7. For a ton of the new fans, this was probably a first in anything for them. First Final Fantasy, first JRPG (or RPG), first “serious” or “mature” game, first whatever, and this blew their mind. Because of that, no other game has really left that much of an impression on them.
Further regarding “firsts”, because it was their first Final Fantasy, or first JRPG, many of the aspects of the game that people consider new and groundbreaking weren’t really new or groundbreaking. There are plenty of story aspects that were lifted from FF6 or previous FF games (or JRPG’s in general). Also many people claim it’s the first 3D JRPG, which is incorrect, even for the Playstation. Wild Arms, while largely 2D, had 3D battle sequences, and King’s Field was a fully 3D world. While Wild Arms is known to plenty of JRPG enthusiasts, King’s Field is still relatively obscure. Since FF7 was their introduction, they weren’t aware that many of their so called “innovations” weren’t necessarily new or groundbreaking, it was just the one that got some of those tropes famous.
Final Fantasy VII’s popularity also caused a surge of RPG’s on the Playstation, many of which were either inspired by elements of it, or just downright copycatted. So several years down the line, if you really only played modern RPG’s and then went back to play FF7, many people found themselves being disappointed. Many of the tropes in FF7 have been done to death already, and nothing about this game is new to them. This and what was mentioned in the previous paragraph tend to be one of the leading causes of much of the hype backlash. Well that and annoying fanboys, but that’s kind of explanatory.
Though that doesn’t answer the question, is FF7 a bad game? While we can spend hours analyzing and possibly criticizing the originality of the story, or whatnot, in the end it’s a game and not a literary work, so we’re supposed to play it. For the most part, it’s a pretty good game, and has a lot of aspects of the game that let it transcend its formerly niche audience and live a successful life. The game is easy to pick up and play, and the mechanics itself are pretty easy to let you proceed through the game. Unlike FF8’s Junction system which to this day still confuses people, and has a more mixed reaction.
For FF7, the gameplay wasn’t challenging, and the game itself wasn’t necessarily challenging. It had a nice difficulty curve, and didn’t force you to grind for several hours. While this may be a deterrent for seasoned RPG fans who want a challenge, this was a good gateway into the world of RPG’s, and why it converted people.
All in all, Final Fantasy VII was a game that came out at the right place at the right time, and while it didn’t really originate most of its tropes, it was what made them popular. So to look at the hype and popularity surrounding this game, one must look at it through time goggles, and hopefully try and view this game in a less biased manor and hopefully enjoy this as just a simple RPG, and not a perfect super original masterpiece, and if you hate it I will kill you and everyone you know.