WARNING: THERE WILL BE FINAL FANTASY VII SPOILERS IN THIS POST. If you’ve never played the game and are waiting for the remake — and care about spoilers — THEN DON’T READ THIS POST. If you don’t give a damn about spoilers then, by all means, read on!
Yes, it’s true. It’s finally true. At E3, there was an announcement that Final Fantasy VII was getting a remake. There’s always the rumor every year and this year it can no longer be a rumor. I loved the reactions from people almost as much as I loved the announcement and I actually reacted way more strongly than I thought I would. I kept looking at Nate through the first 80% of the video saying “It can’t be. No. Nope. Not getting my hopes up nope.” and when I could see Barret’s arm and then Cloud’s buster sword and magical hair I basically flipped my shit and started shrieking something unintelligible. I had already gotten the Fallout 4 announcement which was an overload of YES PLEASE and now this? YES PLEASE, BRING IT.
As much as I love the other Final Fantasy games I’ve played, I think Final Fantasy VII actually has to be my favorite. IX is a very, very close second. But when I think about it, VII is always the one I mention first in conversations about the series.
“Ugh, gross. VII is everyone’s favorite.” Yeah, jump on the bandwagon, yadda yadda yadda.
“It’s really not that good of a game. Go back and play it without your nostalgia goggles.” You know, I might try. But I can’t take my nostalgia goggles off for this game. It’s not just the actual game I love, but Final Fantasy VII was a turning point in my life and also made me realize a lot of the sort of things I loved aesthetically. “Turning point? For what? Liking crappy popular games?” I’M DONE ARGUING WITH YOU, INTERNET-SELF. STFU.
Let me start by sharing the personal significance of this game. When FF7 came out, my father and stepmother were living up in Virginia (they moved to Florida when I graduated high school) along with my stepbrother and little stepsister. I would go and stay with them every other weekend and was in my early teens so I was in that phase of, “DON’T TALK TO ME I JUST WANT TO BE ON THE INTERNET, JEEZ” – although I guess I’m still in there so it must not be a phase. ANYWAYS.
My stepbrother, Josh, was about 9 months younger than me – give-or-take a day or two – and we were both into things of the geek-type but no geeky interest really crossed over to both of us. I had played a lot of computer games in the 90’s (Myst, Phantasmagoria, Shivers, Kings Quest, etc.) and there was a Nintendo in my household when I was younger. I loved that Nintendo and I loved everything I played on my best friend’s Super Nintendo but I never had or played a console after that. I knew about them, was mildly interested in them, but was still all about my point-and-click adventures — which, don’t get me wrong, I still love today.
I remember being in some chatroom on AOL (Myst chat, some random RP chatroom, it was usually something ridiculous with me, of course) and then deciding that I was hungry. I remember saying bye to all the internet pals I was chatting to and leaving the room the computer was in, which exited into the living room. Josh was sitting on the couch with his Playstation on and was completely engrossed in whatever he was playing. When I looked at the screen, I remember seeing a green expanse for a moment before he got in a fight with some giant snake thing (that was the Midgar Zolom, by the way) and was ready to head towards the kitchen when I heard, “Hold up. You gotta see this.”
I remember sighing and looking back at the television. He had Cloud, Tifa, and Aeris in his party while fighting the
giant snake thing Midgar Zolom (don’t test me, I know my ZOLOM). “What do I have to see?”
“See this chick in pink? She’s kind of annoying. I think you’d hate her.”
“So? What do I have to see then? Why would I want to see something that annoys me?”
“She dies in the game later. So…”
Josh knew how I felt about things that really annoyed me. I was also intrigued by the fact that this magical, pink-clad healer lady with the shiny, pretty stick and the giant fabulous bangs was gonna bite it. Would a game really kill a character like that?
I had nothing else to do except grab a snack so I got something and planted my ass down on the giant sectional that took up most of the living room of the townhouse they had lived in at that point in time. The sectional was light grey with speckles of black and splotches of pink, green and blue. Do you know how I remember this? We spent hours (added up to days) on that thing – him playing and me watching. We dropped so many crumbs of all kinds of unhealthy but amazing snacks in between those cushions. He started the game over that first day I sat down so I could see Midgar.
(An aside here – I absolutely am in love with Midgar. The look of it, the idea of it, the Sectors, the Plates, Shinra – everything. And shit, that place was horrible. But those little touches of life and hope around it elevated it to this place in my head. That was the kind of universe I wanted to read about. That was the kind of universe I wanted to write about. That was where my love affair with all things dystopia began. To this day if you ask me my favorite place in a video game I will tell you right off the bat, “Midgar, Silent Hill, Rapture, The Capital Wasteland, Los Santos and Myst Island — did you want more than that? Oh, you only wanted one? Sorry, my bad.”
Not only did I love Midgar, but I zoned in on Wall Market – also Shinra’s HQ GOODNESS GRACIOUS BE STILL MY HEART, YOU PRECIOUS JERKS. But everything about Wall Market – Cloud in a dress, the Honeybee Inn, The Golden Shiny Wire of Hope, doing squats, EVERYTHING. And one of the things I hope with this remake is that a lot of that is still included. Reading interviews and such, it seems like there’s a good chance we’ll be seeing some of this. Which basically just makes me more excited.)
I remember one night – or early morning, as it was somewhere around 3am – we were so furious at Chocobo breeding that we were cursing up a storm. Now, if my father and stepmother heard us we’d for sure get a look and possibly a, “Hey now, come on. Language.” But they were asleep so it was chugging soda, eating chip crumbs and cookies and throwing out, “ANOTHER FUCKING BLUE CHOCOBO? DAMN IT RESET THE GAME, FUCK THIS.” When we woke up well into the afternoon and were asked why we were still so tired my answer was just a hiss, “Chocobos.” My dad had no idea wtf I was talking about. CHOCOBOS, DAD. CHOCOBOS.
We went through Midgar (“NO, NO. YOU NEED CLOUD IN THE BIKINI BRIEFS.”), the beginning of Cloud’s backstory (OR IS IT?!!*(!^#@*(@!), all the fabulous riches of Junon like the Parade mini-game, THE GOLD SAUCER (if Midgar wasn’t in this game you would be my number one, baby), Red XIII’s beautiful Cosmo Canyon home, Nibelheim (yes thank you Josh for bothering to get Vincent – he knew I would like Vincent – VALENTINE WAS OUR MAN), Sit your ass down in that chair and drink your goddamn TEA!, the END OF DISC ONE (he was right too – I was not really a fan of Aeris and Josh made sure to catch my expression when Sephiroth delivered the blow), oh my god do we have knights of the round yet?, did I just get my materia stolen?, snowboarding, the second round of fabulous riches in Junon like the slap-fight, Chocobo racing, running away shrieking from the Ruby/Diamond/Emerald Weapons, oh my god do we have to sit through this knights of the round cutscene?, sure yeah let’s jump in this crater, where did his shirt go?, listen to this kickass song, he’s doing some attack– ohhhHHH DO WE HAVE TO SIT THROUGH THIS CUTSCENE EVERY TIME TOO?
I mean, we dumped so much into this game. We weren’t sure what to do when we finished it.
I asked my dad for a Playstation and FF7 for Christmas that year cause I wanted it in my life forever. To my surprise, I actually got a Playstation for Christmas! He got me Sim City 2000 instead of FF7 though. “THIS ONE CAN BE SLIGHTLY EDUCATIONAL. …MAYBE.” He bought Sim City 2000 so he could play it but he didn’t. 😛 I got my own copy of the game when I could afford it and it still sits on my video game shelf today. Bright and shiny, all three discs… and that giant instruction manual. I bought the PC version later too. I don’t even remember why but I played through that too. And the box was shaped SO KEWL (sorry, talking about the 90’s brought me back to the 90’s)…
We took occasional trips to visit my Dad’s siblings in Florida and I brought my Playstation with us. Josh and I would play other RPGs – I remember us taking turns level grinding in Persona while sitting on the floor of my aunt’s living room. It wasn’t all fun and games with us though – we were stupid teenagers and we occasionally got on each other’s nerves. Siblings are like that sometimes. I remember coming back from a trip to Florida where he stayed home and hadn’t tagged along with us. Me, my dad, my stepmom, and my stepsister – we got back in the middle of the night after the 14-hour car ride and were all beat. The house was kind of a mess and Josh was nowhere to be found. He also let one of his friends sleep in my bed which was a giant OH NO YOU DIDN’T, THERE IS A FIRE IN MY EYES, CHILD. But most weekends were video games. Video games and going with my dad to his studio to sit on the internet and read about video games and send each other links about video games.
After that, consoles were a thing in my life. Josh and I would talk about video games and that shifted to movies and books and all other glorious geek things. We almost started a Vampire: The Masquerade game. We both had clanbooks – me, Toreador (later Tzimisce, come on, y’all), and him, Assamite. When my dad and stepmom moved to Florida in 2003, so did my stepsister and Josh. We would continue to nerd occasionally about things on AOL when we were both online – sorry, America Online for people who are still wondering what the hell I meant with AOL earlier in this ramble. Although, it might have been AIM (AOL’s jump to straight-up instant messaging) at that point.
In January of 2005, I remember sitting in the basement of my house with my sister. We had all the lights off and we were playing Knights of the Old Republic (we needed a CINEMATIC EXPERIENCE) – I was playing and she was watching. I had my awesome Jedi on the screen in the middle of a conversation when the phone rang. I answered it. It was my dad and he was calling to tell me that Josh had died in a car accident. When I got off the phone with him, I told my sister and went right back to playing Knights of the Old Republic. I couldn’t think about it. I didn’t want to think about it. I know I didn’t catch and/or process any of what was going on in Knights of the Old Republic for the rest of the night though.
Every single time since then, when I play a game that hits me particularly hard in some fashion, I always wonder if he would’ve liked it too. BioShock, Fallout 3, Left 4 Dead, Persona 4, Portal, Hotline Miami, Grand Theft Auto V. I don’t know how long I would’ve stalled before jumping into consoles if it wasn’t for him. What kind of games would I be playing today? Would I have crapped on Japanese RPGs because they’re too long or there’s too much grinding?
I haven’t been able to play all the way through Final Fantasy VII since then. Every year I hear the rumor about the remake and hope it’s true and now that it finally is, I’ve realized how damn bad I wanted it – how bad I needed it. I really wish he could play it too though. Hell, I wish he could see how far video games have come in the past ten years. I’d be able to play video games online with him – we could curse up a damn storm at things like zombies and griefers without getting looks from the adults because we would be adults too.
So yeah, I do have perma-nostalgia goggles when it comes to Final Fantasy VII. I know parts of the story are a big what?, some of the translation was off, there are some plot holes, some weird parts, grinding grinding level grinding — but we had so much fun with that shit. The wonky parts, the amazing parts — the whole game. Whenever people ask me what my favorite Final Fantasy is, I usually answer IX. Sometimes, if I’m feeling particularly colorful that day I might even say VIII (that game and my love for it is a whole ‘nother story). But after the question, right away in my mind, VII always comes up first. It may not be what decides to come out of my mouth since there was (is?) that whole “VII is so overrated” period. Yeah, it may be a little overrated but really if you judge someone because they like an “overrated” game then go sit in the corner, you’re in time out.
Wow. I really didn’t mean to go on this long and I really didn’t mean to be all over the place with this but my excitement for the remake isn’t just because it’s going to be REALLY PRETTY (when I saw Midgar in the video I wanted to pass out, my precious) and we’ve been waiting for it so long. But this is one of the main games that helped make me like what I like and maybe even helped a little to make me who I am today. (When I see trash on the ground and pick it up and put it in a trash can I know AERIS WOULD BE PROUD OF ME OKAY? lolololol)
But as an extension of that, it was thanks to Josh (or all his fault, hahaha) that I even saw this game in the first place. Maybe with the remake I’ll finally be able to get through the game again.