, Parasite Eve
, Final Fantasy VIII
, Ogre Battle, Alundra, Lunar, Star Ocean, Tales of Destiny, and even one of Square Haven's favorites, Final Fantasy Tactics
, were all shipped with no hesitation. Why were all of these games suddenly translated for North American audiences after nearly two years of RPG drought on the PlayStation? All due to the success of one title: Final Fantasy VII.
Graphically, FFVII has made nearly every other game its bitch.
Many have thanked FFVII for the sudden surge in RPG interest. Many have just started gaming with RPGs thanks to FFVII. Many have even credited FFVII with the downfall of RPG's from story-based strategic epics to graphically overloaded, cinematic piles of Chocobo manure. No matter what, however, everyone can agree that FFVII is one of the top-selling PS titles to date.
Why is FFVII one of the top-selling PS titles? Why is it so popular? What's so different about this game that it has sold nearly five million copies worldwide? More importantly, who the hell is responsible for messing up the English translation so badly?
The plot, by now, should be familiar to anyone that even knows what the acronym "RPG" stands for. A big, bad and evil company named Shinra has decided that "Hey, storing the planet's life energy is fun and harnessing that energy as Materia will help us preserve the life-force of the planet and gain the wisdom and power of the Ancients! Neat-o!" Of course, with Shinra stealing all of the planet's energy, the planet is dying and everyone is scared. Wait, that's not the least of the problems! Some big, bad and evil guy named Sephiroth has decided that he, too, shall steal the planet's life energy and use it to gain notoriety, fame and hot chicks. Here comes the rebel group "Avalanche" to fix all wrongs and save the day.
Always one to impress, Barret shows off his tight grip on the English language.
The storyline was heralded by some as deep, involving and interesting. Others found the futuristic storyline and setting of the game boring and dull. But gamers who took the time to appreciate a storyline that wasn't medieval and straight from a fairy tale were treated to what is one the most intriguing storylines ever developed for a game, if not a bit confusing and shallow. Besides, who didn't sob a tear or two during the heart-wrenching ending of disc one? That one scene alone is powerful enough to make an impact on any hot-blooded human's life, and any game that can elicit that sort of reaction definitely did something right.
FFVII shocked the world (at the time) with its amazing 3D visuals and bright, powerful spell effects. Gamers everywhere dropped their jaws in unison when they saw the graphics and murmured to themselves "MUST... OWN... GAME." Three years later, the graphics aren't as splendid as originally thought. Many a game has been released with visuals that make FFVII look like Q-Bert in comparison. (Hey, Q-Bert's pseudo-3D visuals were all the rage back in the day.) Still, FFVII looks better than some of the titles that have been released on the PlayStation since then, and the amount of detail in this game is mind-boggling.
The materia system of FFVII solidifies the gameplay and raises RPG strategy to a whole new level. Basically, there are magic balls all around the planet that one can pick up and attach to the character's weapon and/or armor. Each materia ball has its own special power which raises level with the character. As the materia gets more powerful, the ability of the materia becomes stronger, and everyone is happier. Summon spells, a staple of the Final Fantasy series, take form in FFVII as materia, and can be used more often in battle depending on how much the materia has "leveled up." While it doesn't allow each character to have their own class (mage, cleric, warrior, etc.) like other FF titles and doesn't allow a lot of individual character customization, the materia system does a lot more of good than bad.
Lightbulb births are common these days, so I guess it's no surprise that videogames would pick up on the trend sooner or later.
Aurally, FFVII is loaded to the brim with brilliance. With a beautiful soundtrack from Nobuo Uematsu and superb sound effects, there's not a dull note to be heard. The only problem is the MIDI format the music uses. It sounds very 16-bit (synthesized) and doesn't sound as good as the PS could make it sound, but I suppose Square wanted to keep the "Final Fantasy sound" intact. Either way, the music is good, it's just that the format its made under restricts the quality of the sound.
Reviewing a game three years down the line is tough for any reviewer because games are usually revealed to be less fantastic than they first appeared to be since games are constantly improving year after year. However, judging FFVII is no hard task. Despite its many flaws, the game is absolutely brilliant, and it doesn't matter if it's three years down the line or twenty years, it's impossible not to recommend Final Fantasy VII to any RPG gamer, or even any
gamer for that matter. If you haven't picked this one up yet, do it now
It's now just a little bit over three years since Final Fantasy VII was released to the United States gaming public. Back in 1997, the only RPGs available for the PlayStation were titles from Konami (Suikoden, Vandal Hearts) and Sony (Wild Arms). Beginning in 1998, however, the number of RPG releases shot up through the roof like a small child who just swallowed a pound of sugar. Legend of Legaia,