Final Fantasy VII Switch Review – A Beautiful JRPG That Still Makes Fans of Genre

    Title: Final Fantasy VII
    Developer: Square Enix
    Release Date: March 26, 2019
    Reviewed On: Switch
    Publisher: Square Enix
    Genre: JRPG

Like most gamers from my generation, Final Fantasy VII was my first JRPG. After playing, it opened the door of the genre for me, but not many games seemed to leave the impact on me that this game has. I know you’ve heard it all before, how Final Fantasy VII is the greatest JRPGs ever, and to be honest, it’s deserving of this title, and there are a handful of reasons for that.

Now, Square Enix has released Final Fantasy VII on Nintendo Switch and Xbox One for a new generation of gamers to experience for the first time or fans to play the game again on a new platform. This version of the game is the same that was released on PlayStation 4 in 2015 and while it has all the similar features, bringing this HD version of the game on the go with you on the Nintendo Switch just might make it the best way to play through this adventure.

Final Fantasy VII begins by introducing an ex-Soldier member named Cloud who just joined a group of mercenaries as they work towards their goal of stopping the evil Shinra corporation from sucking the life energy from the planet and using it to power their operations. This scope is kept rather small as the player learns more about Cloud and the rest of the members of the group. Slowly, new characters will be introduced after the group of mercenaries run into a trap during a mission.

It’s here that we realize Cloud is getting into something bigger than he could imagine. After running into a girl named Aerith, Cloud finds out that there’s something special about her that connects her to the Temple of the Ancients as well as a possible ticket into the promise land. However, others want this power including Sephiroth, a strong antagonist looking to summon Meteor which will end all life on the planet.

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Although this is a brief rundown of the plot of the game, Final Fantasy VII takes its time and gives the player plenty of time to learn about the characters and their intentions. While the party expands, each character players a key role in completing their goals and saving the planet. The writing makes it easy to get attached to the characters and their situation, which is why you often hear that people are so emotionally invested in the story. Cloud’s determination to figure out the truth about himself and save the planet is an adventure that grabs ahold of the player for hours and doesn’t let up.

Many questions in the story are answered by the end of the game, but the game leaves it up to the player to figure out many of the small details sprinkled throughout the story. There’s plenty of supernatural mystery themes that expand over the course of the game and it can get a little overwhelming, but understanding these small nuances isn’t totally necessary to get attached to the full story, which is good for anyone playing through for the first time.

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The battle system is turn-based, but while there is a basic attack action the game puts an emphasis on the use of Materia. Materia is equipped to weapon and armor and add magic abilities and a new skill to the character who has them equipped. During battle equipped material earns AP that will eventually level it up in which it becomes more powerful. Other useful Materia includes Cover which will have one high defense character take the hit for another character and Enemy Skill which will learn special attacks from enemies. One of the more powerful Materia is Summons which summon a powerful creature to the field to land some massive damage on the enemy.

With that said, Materia has a negative and positive effect on the character that equips it which makes organizing them and paying attention to what they each do is a nice way to customize the character to your liking. Throughout the game, equipment will have multiple slots to equip many Materia so having a good understanding of them all is necessary to get the most out of them. However, the system is pretty straight forward and a player could get through the entire game without giving the system much thought outside of equipping their favorite magical abilities and leveling them up.

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The map allows players to travel the open world to new towns and dungeons. Interestingly, exploring off the beaten path will usually lead to a reward. Curiosity is rewarded further by having secret party members that can only be found after a special event and Ultimate Weapons for each character.

To help with the exploration, the game provides a number of different means of traversal, from a Chocobo to an airship. Speaking of Chocobo, there’s also a Chocobo racing mini-game that can give the players access to a special Black Chocobo after winning racing and breeding certain kinds.

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Updated features on the Nintendo Switch include the ability to speed up to 3x, which I actually used a lot. This is a suspenseful game, and they like to build that suspense by having characters slowly walk into a scene, but this can also take a lot of time. Furthermore, running on the world map and level grinding is the perfect time click that Left analog stick down and enjoy the full speed sprit toward your next destination. However, using the speed boost in a boss battle does make them a little difficult since you have to act quickly during a turn and, unlike the feature in Final Fantasy IX, it also speeds up the time limit.

Additional features include an assist button that heals and gives each character their Limit Break. This is definitely a nice feature for anyone stuck on a boss or can’t be bothered to waste a few turns healing up. With that said, Game Over in Final Fantasy VII has a nice continue feature after returning to the main menu that gets you back in the action in case your ego doesn’t allow you to use the help feature. The game has also had some graphical updates, bringing the game’s character models to HD resolutions. However, the pre-rendered backgrounds, although beautiful, have not received the same treatment. It should also be mentioned that the audio glitch is still present in this version of the game, but I honestly couldn’t tell unless I listened closely to the track.

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Final Fantasy VII on Switch is perhaps the best way to play this game in this generation. The portability of the console makes it great for those busy aged gamers trying to rediscover that JRPG adventure they remember growing up as well as gamers who just want to play the definitive version of the game for the first time. You’d think I’d be over singing the praises of this game after playing through it so many times, but after picking it up on the Switch I was immersed in this adventure for another round and I loved it.

All the love that you’ve heard about Final Fantasy VII is well deserved. The characters and their determination to save the planet fuels this adventure and makes it easy to look past the game’s graphical age. This is a game that requires some imagination, but that’s also what makes it means something different for every player. I will sing this game’s praises to the very end. Final Fantasy VII is a JRPG that every fan of the genre must play and the Switch offers no better place to play it.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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