Growing up in the ’90s was an excellent time for JRPG fans. The PlayStation and Super Nintendo era of JRPGs gave us some of the best experiences of the genre that are regarded as such today. When I first played Final Fantasy VII, my world changed, I was barely entering middle school and was used to playing games like Crash Bandicoot and any demo disc that I could get my hands on. Everything about Final Fantasy VII was gripping and provided a new experience for me throughout each playthrough. The small secrets and extra content that was found by exploring the game’s vast world was nothing short of brilliant for my fantasy-loving mind.
To this day, the one thing that I feel firmly attached to are the characters. While some characters only have a few hours in the spotlight, they each have a significant impact and leave a lasting impression on the player. After playing Final Fantasy VII Remake and hearing Jesse’s voice in the demo that I played, I couldn’t help but get a little emotional knowing that I’m hearing these characters for the first time. With that said, bits of the environment and nuances of the situation will most likely have a bigger impact on those who have played through the original.
In the demo, Cloud and Barret are going on their first mission together to blow up a Mako Reactor and slowly take down the evil Shinra corporation. The team at Square Enix has done a spectacular job at preserving the look and tone of the reactor as well as recreate the sensitive nature of the mission. Barret questions if he can trust Cloud and is keeping a close watch on him until an alarm sounds that calls forth the Guard Scorpion.
In the original Final Fantasy VII, this boss was meant to teach you some much-needed skills when it comes to timing in battles. If attacked during a specific time, it will launch a powerful counter-attack. This was mainly for training purposes and Final Fantasy VII Remake recreates that perfectly in a 3D space — save for some additional flare. After defeating the boss, the demo is over, and Cloud must go forth to conquer anything that comes his way.
The biggest take away is how exciting this was even though I’ve done this battle plenty of times before. When compared to the original, though, the turn-based nature of the battle system gives a different perspective of the mission at hand and puts a bit more stress on the player to make quick choices.
Where I feel Final Fantasy VII excels in a little bit more than Final Fantasy VII Remake is in the imagination department. The pre-rendered backgrounds of the original and several different character models each provide a sense of stretching the imagination of the player to the fullest extent. The remake, however, takes that away from the player but recreates it in a brilliant way that truly fits how you would think this world and the characters would look.
Still, I felt that my jaw dropped because of how perfectly the developer has accomplished this. While someone new to the game might just see a generic dungeon-crawling structure and environment design, I saw the world I imagined unfold before my eyes, and it was utterly compelling. The clothing, characters, enemies, attacks, everything was how it should be and nothing was out of place or jarring.
This is why I urge you to play the first game, at least through Midgar, which Final Fantasy VII Remake will cover. I promise the story and characters hold up, and the battle system is classic Japanese role-playing at its best. Also, take your time with it, any chance you get to sneak into a random house and rob someone’s dresser, you take it. Learn all you can about your teammates and state of the world post-Shinra and you will experience Final Fantasy VII Remake in the best way possible.
Final Fantasy VII means a lot to a lot of people. With the announcement of Final Fantasy VII Remake, this game can now be shared with a new generation of gamers. However, I feel that playing the original first will pay off in the end. If you want to spoil yourself even more before the release of Remake, play Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core after you play the original.
Final Fantasy VII is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. In case you missed it, check out our review of the Switch version.
Final Fantasy VII Remake is coming to PlayStation 4 on March 3, 2020.
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