The Great Final Fantasy Retrospective - Let's Mosey

wings012

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I never played any of the Xeno games after Xenogears. Apparently the Xenosaga games were supposed to be in the same universe but apparently they also weren't? And then they only made ep 1-3 so the two episodes, 4 and 6, which would have been most closely related to Xenogears ended up not even happeing.
The whole thing with Xeno is that the creators felt shafted or something and went off to make Monolith Soft under Namco. They had some grand plan for 7 games in a reimagining of the whole Xeno universe, called Xenosaga but it ended up being 3 episodes.

The original Xenogears thing was some big plan for 6 games I believe, it was detailed in some artbook/compendium style thing called Perfect Works.

I can't really remember how the story goes anymore, but I remember hearing some nonsense about how the 7 episodes of Xenosaga were only Episode 1 of Xenogears or some donkey nonsense, but none of that matters now. Both Xenosaga and Xenogears were apparently small parts of super grand sagas that never were, not much sense thinking too much about it.

Monolith Soft is now under Nintendo where they are happily making Xenoblade.

Any sort of Xenogears continuation/remake is highly unlikely since the people that would be responsible for it have long pissed off.
 
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CriticalGaming

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Well I really had to push to get through this next one. Sorry about that.

FINAL FANTASY V:

Final Fantasy 5 is a strange entry in the series for most Westerners, because originally FFV was thought to be too difficult for Western Audiences. Much like how they dumbed down the original release for FF4, they didn't even bother with FF5. So Western audiences didn't see FF5 until it release on the Ps1 in Anthologies and then later on mobile phones and stream with terrible sprites. The people in the "know" back in the day simply emulated the game with a mediocre fan translation, that served well enough but got some of the details wrong. Like with Buttz being the main character's name when in reality it's Bartz which I don't think is an improvement.

FF5 is a story about nature's balance being upset and out heroes being fashionably too late to really do anything about it. But unlike FF4, this tells a more traditional FF story, at least traditional up to this point. Basically an evil entity called Exdeath is disrupting the elemental crystals which is fucking everything up, you and your friends would rather not have everything fucked up so to set about trying to unfuck everything. Pretty standard stuff in regards to FF1,2,3, and now 5. This will be the last time Final Fantasy stories do this. In fact this is the last time FF games sort of have crystals as core parts of the plot and the world.

This game plays a lot like Final Fantasy 3 except much improved. Once again the gameplay revolves around a job system that levels independantly of your character's levels, but now there are more of them and they all contain many more abilities and difference from other jobs than what FF3 had. The jobs are given to you in chunks much in in Three however this time you aren't exactly given to them by the crystals, well you are, but only because the crystals explode when you try to save them which hinders the goal of the party to unfuck things, but hey at least you get new superpowers out of it so it's not a total wash.

What's interesting about FF5 is not the story which is still cliche and ridiculous, but more in how FF5 builds on the characters in your party. Farin for example is a pirate captain and is as feared as any notorious captain, however the twist is that she's a girl which is unheard of, and later in the game where Farin is dressed up in beautiful gowns and girly shit, she hates it. She grew up as an orphan pirate and that's where she enjoys her life. It doesn't try to pigeon-hole her into the "girly" role of the party and that's pretty different for a 90's RPG if absolutely tropey today.

FF5 is also the first appearance of fan-favorite baddie Gilgamesh, who starts as a sinister threat to the group, but flees when he begins to lose only to become a sort of comic relief villian where he hunts out a new weapons to fight the group and prove himself the greatest weapon master of all time. The final encounter it appears that Gilgamesh has found the ultimate sword the Excalibur! With this legendary weapon the party has no hope, until he realizes that the weapon doesn't hurt us much and he discovers that he actually has found a shitty replica the ExcaliPOOR, haha funny joke. The party then banishes Gilgamesh into a different reality where he lands in future FF games and his mission to hunt the best weapons ever made continues.

Exdeath is a strange villian because he is the embodiment of an ancient tree who is made at humanity for fucking up the planet so he becomes Exdeath to kill us all and to be honest he's kind of stupid in a Deathmetal type of way. Stupid in the sense that he hides with the party at one point as a splinter in Reina's finger, but metal as fuck in other ways as he had made his fortress out of human skin. That's fucking cool, but also stupid. Whatever.

The job system as I said is expanded here, and while anybody can be any job and do fine, some characters are better suited at some jobs than others. Unlike FF3, the basic job "onion knight" or in this game "freelancer" actuall has a purpose. You see when you master a job, you keep the best stat of that job whenever you are a freelancer. For example if you master a Mage, you'll have the abilities of that Mage and it's best stat carry over into the freelancer job. This means the more jobs you master, the more powerful freelancers become. And if you master every job, then swap to freelancer you effective have a god character as they will have max of every stat and have access to every ability in the game. The grinding potential is INSANE here, and I do not suggest anyone ever attempt to make god characters because....it's a lot.

At the end of the day there is a reason why FF5 doesn't really get mentioned in the best or worse Final Fantasy lists. IT doesn't do anything bad really, but it also doesn't good anything noteworthy or good. It's fun for people who like the job system, but it doesn't have a good villian, nor a good overall plot to make it stick with you. Final Fantasy 5 lands solidly near the bottom of the Final Fantasy list.


So going forward Final Fantasy games start getting very different from each other and from the foundations of the franchise itself. The adventures of crystals fades into unique stories with unique characters that actually start to step up in terms of writting quality. This is also the point in which I'm going to take a break. Too much Final Fantasy too close together and since the games are going to start getting much longer I need to refresh myself.

Oh look at Cat!
 

meiam

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FF5 story is actually sorta interesting in how it awkwardly bridge early game simple story with later (and 4) more complex story and character. You end up with this weird abridged game where information is just dumbed on the player incredibly quickly. In one cutscene that last maybe 2 minutes you get: the dad of 2 of the main character dies, the bad guy plan succeed, one of the main character regain his memory, he's an alien from another world who also was part of the older group of hero, he has a granddaughter and he's going back to his world, which is possible using meteor. And then the game just move on, like no big deal. It also has the issue where the main character essentially has nothing to do with the group and is just sorta along for the ride. All of that really make it feel like a stepdown storywise compare to 4.

But the star of the show is unquestionably the job system, you can make all kind of wacky party and there's good diversity in abilities. Sadly you're really limited in how many you can equip at once which really limit the advantages of playing multiple class to collect lots of different cool ability, realistically once you get the last batch of jobs you're probably not going to change your party much from that point on. Still, it makes re playing the game pretty fun since you can try out radically different party without feeling like you're stuck with your choice. The game also makes a good effort of having little side quest/area throughout the game rather than all at the end which is rather fun. So while the story doesn't matchup to 4, I think 5 is much more fun to play overall and I'll probably replay it multiple time while I can't say the same about 4.

Also, no mention of the crazy bridge battle theme! In a series with exceptional soundtrack it still stand out as one of the most awesome track in it. The whole sequence is also pretty great and probably largely contributed to Gilgamesh becoming a recurring character (although his death fight is also pretty cool, shame the gameplay seriously undercut it since you spend the entire time stealing from him while he's trying to help you).

 

Silvanus

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FF5 story is actually sorta interesting in how it awkwardly bridge early game simple story with later (and 4) more complex story and character. You end up with this weird abridged game where information is just dumbed on the player incredibly quickly. In one cutscene that last maybe 2 minutes you get: the dad of 2 of the main character dies, the bad guy plan succeed, one of the main character regain his memory, he's an alien from another world who also was part of the older group of hero, he has a granddaughter and he's going back to his world, which is possible using meteor. And then the game just move on, like no big deal. It also has the issue where the main character essentially has nothing to do with the group and is just sorta along for the ride. All of that really make it feel like a stepdown storywise compare to 4.

But the star of the show is unquestionably the job system, you can make all kind of wacky party and there's good diversity in abilities. Sadly you're really limited in how many you can equip at once which really limit the advantages of playing multiple class to collect lots of different cool ability, realistically once you get the last batch of jobs you're probably not going to change your party much from that point on. Still, it makes re playing the game pretty fun since you can try out radically different party without feeling like you're stuck with your choice. The game also makes a good effort of having little side quest/area throughout the game rather than all at the end which is rather fun. So while the story doesn't matchup to 4, I think 5 is much more fun to play overall and I'll probably replay it multiple time while I can't say the same about 4.

Also, no mention of the crazy bridge battle theme! In a series with exceptional soundtrack it still stand out as one of the most awesome track in it. The whole sequence is also pretty great and probably largely contributed to Gilgamesh becoming a recurring character (although his death fight is also pretty cool, shame the gameplay seriously undercut it since you spend the entire time stealing from him while he's trying to help you).

I'm still sore at FF5 for that one boss who charges up his bullshit laser attack and one-shots your entire team... unless you cast an insta-death spell during his charging phase. At any other time he's immune to insta-death attacks, and the game doesn't fucking tell you about his brief loss of immunity. You're just supposed to.... uhrm, guess? Intuit it? Nonsense I say!
 

Dalisclock

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I'm still sore at FF5 for that one boss who charges up his bullshit laser attack and one-shots your entire team... unless you cast an insta-death spell during his charging phase. At any other time he's immune to insta-death attacks, and the game doesn't fucking tell you about his brief loss of immunity. You're just supposed to.... uhrm, guess? Intuit it? Nonsense I say!
Remind me where that boss was. I haven't played the game in a decade or so
 

Silvanus

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Remind me where that boss was. I haven't played the game in a decade or so
Near the end of the game. In the dimensional rift, top of the castle-ish bit of it, just before you head into the final crystalline area where Exdeath waits. His name is Twintania.
 
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CriticalGaming

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So the Cat game was only a couple hours long and wasn't very good. So I guess Final Fantasy is a thing.

FINAL FANTASY 6:

Oh boy this is a big one isn't it. Everybody on the forums by now know that FF7 is my absolute favorite Final Fantasy Game, but beyond that it is my favorite game of all time period. But another game often gets brought up when people talk about the best/favorites in the Final Fantasy series and that game is FF6. I had never played FF6 in all the years I've been an FF-fan simply because it was never easily playable for me and I was always bouncing to newer things. Though FF6 has been ported many times over between Gameboy Advanced, Mobile phones, bad PC ports of said mobile phone version, pixel remaster now. I opted to play the original version on the SNES mini.

FF6 has an iconic opening, magitek walkers now iconic in the FF series, mode-7 walk across a snow field towards a village. Soldiers of the Empire and a enslaved young girl march into this town looking for an Esper (aka summon) to harness it's power. The world is devoid of magic, but through draining the essence of Espers long frozen to time, the Empire wants to reignite magic in the world, a force that destroied everything once before. They want to harness magic to rule the world with ease, basically Empire is bad.

You blow through town and into the caves behind where the girl is used to try and drain the Esper's power, things backfire and the girl is separated from the troops (the first appearance of Biggs and Wedge) and she finds herself with no memory alone. This girl turns out to be Terra our protagonist of this adventure, she is rescued by members of the resistance who help her get out of town and escape the empire who really want her back for some reason. Terra can use magic in battle and as it turns out, that's kind of a big deal.

The first time you use magic in battle with other party members they freak out, because that's not supposed to be possible. So Terra is the chosen one and they beg her to become part of the resistance to fight back against the empire. And that basically serves as the set up for this entire game. Also evil clown.

Final Fantasy 6 marks the begining of what you might call the golden age of Final Fantasy. Because for the next FIVE games, there are people who will argue as to why 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10, are the best games in the series. And with mostly good reasons, because FF6 is where Final Fantasy really starts to focus on story and making a large overarching narrative with depth and twists and turns and consequences, which never really happen in games prior to this.

And Final Fantasy 6's story is pretty good for what it is. I don't really think it's super great compared to later games (especially the next one) but compared to the first 5 games, it's LEAGUES better. One thing that really takes me out of the game is the split story sections. There are a lot of characters in the game, and you can't have the party all together all the time, so the game finds these excuses to break the characters up (usually into three groups) and you can choose to do these smaller sections in any order you want. It's a neat idea but I found that they typically hurt the pacing of where the main story is going and pulled me out of it a bit to where I wanted to rush these sections just to get everything back on track.

Gameplay wise FF6 is standard ATB and since there are no actual jobs every character plays a role in combat. Not all of these are well thought out, like Sabin for example, Sabin's blitz ability requires a set directional input for various different blitz abilities that he can do. The thing is, all these blitz attacks are way better than a normal attack and there is no cost to doing them, meaning you have no reason to never not blitz with him. So when you use Sabin, you blitz, end of story. I get where they were going to try and give every character something, but an MP cost on Blitz or something would have added strategy to it.

Outside of that the combat is your typical ATB fun from Final Fantasy and it's really good. The story is engaging for the most part and Kefka....oh boy Kefka is a fun and cool villian who actually WINS. He destroys the world, he gets what he wants, and you and your party kind of rally in a cool comeback arch that made the final fight feel really satisfying....but really easy. FF6 I think also sets about a pattern where these games get really easy to break, either that or the game itself is just really easy outside of one creepy Octopus fight.

I can see why FF6 is a lot of people's favorite game, and if I had played FF6 when it came out I might feel really different about it. But going back to it as the last FF game that I've ever played, I know that the other games do what this one started but better in my opinion. However it still easily ranks near the top of the list of great FF games.
 

meiam

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FF6 is great, but it does feel like a bit of setback compared to 5 in the gameplay department. While its great that every character is unique, It's not just Sabin that's broken, if you play his brother you always want to use tools, some of Gau monster attack are devastating from beginning to end and so on. The esper system is cool since getting new esper feel really rewarding rather than just another piece of gear you'll replace soon, but magics aren't that useful tbh and because leveling with an esper equipped give you bonus stats it feel like if you level too much early on (before you get esper) it feel like the game actively punish you.

Oh the other hand, the game has tons of fun content, the destroyed world is essentially one side quest bazaar, and because the bad guy already won it doesn't feel like there's much of a rush so it's okay to take some time off and explore character backstory. The casts is large are pretty interesting so it also mean you get a steady stream of new character throughout the game and because the party often split you have to use most of them, rather than just use your favorite one all the time.

This bleed over into most of the story that takes a lot of risk. There's just a bunch of fun little vignette for all the various character, like the legendary opera scene or shadow dream. I also really like that you go trough many different main characters rather than stick with one. The game also flip the usual script of magic = good, technology = bad since the world would have been far better if magic never came back. This was square at the top of its game, where they knew they could try new stuff because people were buying there game on name recognition alone.

The game is also gorgeous, they really mastered pixel graphic and they were making the most of it, so much so that they recycled a bunch of monster sprite for bahamut lagoon a few years later.

P.S. Are there really people who argue FF8 is the best FF?
 

CriticalGaming

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So it's time. I don't even really know how to approach this game for this retrospective. Like how can I objectively talk about my favorite game of all time? How can I really put a critical (ha) lens on it? I guess the answer is, that I simply can't so you will have to take the following wall of text with the knowledge that to me it's the best game ever made......actually maybe? I don't know. Here we go.

Final Fantasy VII:

Final Fantasy games for a long time have always had this touch of science fiction within them. As far back as the first game there were warmech's to fight and robots and various types of ships or submarines or space ships or all three. But all that sci-fi has been sprinkled into a very fantasy setting which makes sense because of the name of the series.

Final Fantasy 7 hits different immediately as the opening shows a huge city sprawled out before the player. The cinematic focuses on a girl whom we don't yet know and pulls back to an aerial view of the entire city of Midgar with a big imposing tower in the center. It's semi-futuristic, it's industrial, it's very different from any FF games setting yet even as the camera pulls in to a train pulling into a station you get the feeling of the modern touch to all of this. The guards have guns, the big black dude who's apparently you're ally has a gun for an arm. Yet you....Ex-Soldier, have a big fucking sword.

This was my first FF game back in the day and the image of the first battle didn't click with me that the guards im fighting are shooting me with machine guns, and i just have a sword, it's a big sword, but it's just a sword so I shouldn't win this fight. But after playing through 6 games and coming into this one it stands out a bit to me.

Final Fantasy 7 wasn't just my first Final Fantasy game, this was my first RPG game. Never had I played games with exp, level ups, or anything like that. I was used to Crash Bandicoots, Metal Gears, Marios, things like that. I still remember my first thought when I got into the very first fight in FF7, "Oh this is one of those stupid menu games." Meaning you just picked options on a menu and watched things happen. This was nothing like Street Fighter or Streets of Rage where you were an active part of the gameplay. But since I was a kid and didn't have money to go get another game I kept playing, needless to say I got over the "menu game" thing pretty fucking quick.

I think what grabbed me about the game first was all the story. I had played games with story before but it was usually just a few lines of text before going through entire levels of gameplay before getting anymore out of the story and it wasn't good story either. But here in FF7, the characters talked all the time, after almost every battle and sometimes even during there would be dialog, story, the characters felt real in a way no other video game characters had felt before.

So everyone knows how this plays out right? You are part of a terrorist group called AVALANCHE in all caps because reasons, and you are battling against an evil electric company because the fuel they use to power the city is the life essence of the planet itself called Mako. What was so captivating about this game for me was not the environmental message, I was a bit young to really get it, I just thought it was a planet saving quest like any number of other save the world adventures before it. But what was really interesting was like the obvious set up for the game. It was three discs at the time and there are eight reactors in Midgar, so I remember thinking, "ok so there's probably only a few reactors per disc and then the final disc will be attacking the tower directly. FF7 does a really good job keeping the scope of the story small, Midgar is where you are and that's the only thing that matters. There is very little about the world beyond Midgar at any point during Midgar, some references to the promised land and the Gold Saucer but nothing that directly suggests the game is much bigger than you think.

But at the second reactor things go wrong, the president of Shinra shows up to taunt the party and uses a new prototype weapon to fight you. The best boss theme music plays for the first time and you battle a very easy robot because back attacks are broken. The robot explodes and Cloud falls to his death. Welp, game over then, guess the game is short than I thought. What are the other two discs for?

Wait he lived? Unharmed!? Oh right flowers, yeah I guess you could fall from a skyscraper into a pile of flowers and be okay, that makes sense. So from terrorist to body guard, why is Shrina after a flower girl? Three hours into the game and it expertly begins to build up the world and that there is more going on with Shrina and even the people you befriend than you would expect.

If I could say one thing that FF7 does absolutely brillantly, better than any game in the series, is the build up. From the world outside Midgar, to the big villain Sephiroth, they do a fantastic job building up these characters and these elements of the story better than ANY entry in the series. Nobody is teased and built with such ominous effect as Sephiroth. During Midgar Sephiroth is a legend, also a soldier like CLoud but better than any Soldier anyone has ever seen. There is no indication that he is the bad guy or where he is now or anything. It's really great but is greater by what happens when the party storms Shinra's tower.

Turns out we storm Shrina HQ much faster than I ever thought, Aeris (it was Aeris in the original PS1 version) is taken by Shrina, AVALANCHE's home sector is brought down and the only choice left is to take the fight direct to the boss himself and get Aeris back. The invasion doesn't go super well, as the party is captured and thrown in jail. At least we're thrown in the cell next to Aeris, that's cool, saves us the trouble of finding her when we break out of this joint.....as soon as we figure out how.....

Oh never mind the door is open, wait why is there blood everywhere, why are all the guards dead? Where is the alien thing in the tank? Let's go ask the president....oh he is dead with...a....big....sword....impaled....into his back. Sephiroth? But wait? Why would he help us? Where even is he?

Well the Vice President shows up, and Shinra guards aren't too happy with us murdering the President so we are chased out of town and....then the game shifts dramatically. Cloud knows that is Sephiroth is alive and doing shit, then it's not gonna be good shit and he has to chase him down to stop him. So we go from focusing on Shinra and Midgar to chasing Sephiroth across the world. It's a huge focus shift that blew my mind and it was still disc 1!? Holy fuck how big is this game!?

That's just a brief overview right. The funny thing about FF7 is that I think it has the most lore and deepest story layers than any other Final Fantasy game. Truly I think this is the peak of Final Fantasy story telling. No other game has a world this built, this fleshed out, this deep even down to the tiny subconscious motivations of each character.

Now I have to split this post due to word count.
 

CriticalGaming

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PART 2

The Gameplay of FF7 is interesting. I think this is where the Final Fantasy games really start to try to invent new battle mechanics with each game to make the gameplay unique and more customizable. In Final Fantasy 7 the characters aren't really unique in battle, beyond stats making them slightly better at melee or magical combat. There is a range system where you can move characters to the front or back row but like in previous games this is pretty ignorable. Unlike in 6 where some characters had special commands like Tech and Blitz. Nobody in FF7 has anything like that.

What they have instead is Materia. Green, Blue, Red, Yellow, and Purple, each Materia can be slotted into weapons and armor your characters have equipped and each materia will grant that character a bonus. Sometimes it's an ability like with Green, Red, and Yellow Materia, other times it enhanced your stats like with Purple materia, Or it enhances other materia you might have equipped in the Blue materia.

Each piece of equipment has a different number of slots in which you can put materia, of these slots there are two types Linked and Unlinked. Unlinked slots are easy you just drop in a materia and it does what it does nothing more. However with a linked slot you can put blue materia in with a green (and only green) materia to enhance it in some way. You can make the magic hit all enemies, you can add that magic's element to your weapon attack, or enhance the resistance to that elemental magic on that character, you can even make that character heal if they get hit with that magic type.

What is really good about the Materia system is it allows for a crazy level of customization, on top of also allowing for a crazy level of combos and interactions that can make you extremely powerful to the point were you can't lose the game ever for any reason. It's an easy to understand system that isn't super complex to break but does require a decent level of thought to put things together in ways that break the game. And even if you don't want to break the game, it's at least easy to make sure you are strong enough to beat the game.

I don't think anyone would say FF7 is hard by any stretch. But it doesn't have to be, it simply let's itself be fun.

Top that off with a shitload of mini games thanks to....I dunno drugs at Squaresoft at the time. I dunno. But I can't fathom why they felt like it was so needed to make a bunch of mini games, and I'm not even talking about the Gold Saucer, at least there it makes sense. There are other mini games everywhere through out, from dropping barrels on dudes chasing Aeris to giving a little girl CPR, fucking snowboarding with the worse controls ever made. As much as I love the game itself, the mini games are almost without exception, terrible. Maybe the motorcycle game is already and the battle arena but that's just because it's battling with RNG debuffs. Oh and Chocobo Breeding/racing is great if a little tedious but hey you get the most power Materia in the game for doing it so, it has the best payoff of any mini game in the game.

One thing FF7 does really well with the gameplay is that it's spread of materia is fantastic. Every new location has a new cool materia to find, topped with a great variety of equipment that you can combine to making leveling materia easier.

Beyond all that, FF7 continues to use the ATB-turn based battle system seen since FF4 and it works just as good here as in those games.

BACK TO STORY:

After leaving Midgar you head to the first town Kalm where Cloud tells a story about why Sephiroth is a danger. He showcases Sephiroth's power and what's really cool about this part is that it's a playable flashback where you get Sephiroth in your party! You can't control him but he appears in random battles and everytime he just immediately fucks up everything and anything on screen. It shows his power incredibly well and leaves that impression in the players mind that this dude is the real deal. What's really smart about it too is that Sephiroth will use magics that the party will eventually get like Fire 3, Ice 3, etc etc, it also showcases a benchmark of where you can go as the player.

Anyway Sephiroth learns during this adventure that he is a half-breed with an alien creature called Jenova that Shrina has been expiramenting with. Using alien DNA to create super soldiers in a program called Soldier. Which means it's not just Mako that makes the Soldiers so good, it's alien juice. Again there are levels to this lore that get really really deep.

The thing about FF7 is that a lot of people dismiss it's lore as something that Square built up because FF7 was the most popular game in the series and they make excuses as to why other FF title's don't have that same detail. But the problem with that argument is this lore is all straight from the original game. Meaning it was in place way before FF7 became the best selling biggest FF game ever. It's because of how fleshed out the world is, and how deep the rabbit hole goes, as how they've managed to make a FF7 cinematic universe out of it basically.

I wont regail you with the entire lore, nor the entire story of the game. Because it's far too long. But I've played this game well over 50 times start to finish now, and I enjoy it every single time. I've platinumed the game, dated Barret, Yuffie, Aeris, and Tifa (the most). There isn't anything in this game I've not done except speedrun it because I don't want to skip the story and stuff when I go to play it.

Final Fantasy 7 is the best Final Fantasy game imo hands down, it brings more customization, fun battles, deep lore, than any game in the series....oh and best villian. However I do think other games have better individual characters. Yuna and Wakka are both better than anyone in 7 tbh.

It's definitely better than 8......oh god......
 

meiam

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Similarly FF7 was my first JRPG, RPG and "long" game I played. Except at the time: 1) I didn't know english so I had to to painstakingly translate every word with a dictionary and 2) for the first week I had the game I didn't know you needed a memory card to save game (and I lived in the boondock so couldn't just go buy one at the store), it was during summer break and I would play the game from morning to night, shut it down at night, and then repeat the following day, I think furthest I got was Wutai. Upside is over the course of the summer I learned english, downside is that square game didn't exactly have the best translation...

I'd agree that the lore is much deeper than previous entry, but I'd say its about on par compare to later FF (and below FFT). But yeah, the game does a really good job presenting information. Sephiroth isn't that interesting as a bad guy, but the game build up to him masterfully. Most of the game you just see the aftermath of him just passing trough, I love how you have to get a chocobo just to cross the swamp to get to the other side without the Midgard zolum killing you, just to find out that on the other side that Sephiroth casually impaled it on a tree. Same for the flashback that's full of hole, setting up the big reveal later on. I'd say this is where the remake really falter, imagine how much lamer Sephiroth would be if you fought and beat him at the end of the Midagrd section, before you even have the flashback where he just casually destroy every enemy while Cloud literally get killed in one attack.

Gameplay wise, I wish the materia system was pushed much further. There's not enough materia (should have made more with all the unique skill from previous game), character aren't unique enough and the slotting system could use more type of connection and slot with special effect. The game is also way too easy, first time I went trough I literally didn't understand that equipping materia changed your character stats, my entire strategy was just to have has many summon on all my character and it worked just fine. Still it had really good presentation, I remember booting up the game as a bored teenager just to watch the awesome summon and higher level magic.

But I think what made the game truly special was just all the neat little detail and addition, from the aforementioned mountain of mini game (here, have a slap fight, why not) to all the fun little detail, like going on a date with Barret or having Cloud fuck talk to a bunch of dude in a bath house to sneak into a pimp house. The amount of side quest is pretty staggering, and I love the weapon monster flying around the world, I used to be so fucking scared of these I would always fly the highwind/submarine as close to the ground as possible to avoid meeting them.
 

CriticalGaming

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I'd say this is where the remake really falter, imagine how much lamer Sephiroth would be if you fought and beat him at the end of the Midagrd section, before you even have the flashback where he just casually destroy every enemy while Cloud literally get killed in one attack.
Don't worry I'll get to the Remake.
 
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hanselthecaretaker

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Pretty sure FF7 was the first game that made me cry. And it wasn’t the infamous death scene that did it, but the game’s ending. After the long, memorable journey getting there it was just…fucking beautiful.
 
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Kyrian007

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P.S. Are there really people who argue FF8 is the best FF?
They exist, yes.
I'm one of the defenders of FF8 that speaks up from time to time. But even I make the distinction, its my favorite FF game. But it isn't the best FF game, not by a long shot. But ever since I got out of school and into the "real world." The working 40-60 hours a week and not getting 3 months off a year, real world; I just don't have time to grind out a FF game like I did when FF1 came out when I was in elementary school. Or when FF2 (American 2, really FFIV) came out when I was in middle school. Or when I just poured a whole summer into FFVI in high school. But as busy as I was in college when I got my hands on FFVII, I didn't ever even finish it. It took almost a whole school year to get to the final disc. Then my roommate beat it while I was in the room and I watched the ending with him... and never bothered beating it myself for several years after that.

That's why 8 became my favorite. The junction system reducing grind to the point where you could rip through the game in a couple of weekends worth of play. It isn't a better game. But for those with too many other things going on in their lives, it is easily the most accessible. But best? Probably 6, maybe 7, potentially 9... hell, I had a lot of fun with 4. And the elementary school me loved the first one. But favorite, 8. Has to be, I've completed it the most times of any of them. Probably played through start to finish more times than the rest added together. Because its possible to without taking a couple of weeks off work and then faking sick for another few days just to have enough time to finish it.
 
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meiam

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That's why 8 became my favorite. The junction system reducing grind to the point where you could rip through the game in a couple of weekends worth of play. It isn't a better game.
?! The junction system grind is the main reason I think FF8 is one of the most flawed FF game, its the only FF game where I genuinely had to roam around an area triggering pointless battle to just sit around for 10 minute drawing magic. I think your confusing the junction system with the level scaling.

But FF grind ridiculously exagerated, you can breeze trough most of the game even if you run from most battle. I know cause that's how I beat 9 the first time, I was a dumb kid and didn't realize that Zidane Flee ability made your group run and gave you no exp, so I beat the game in the low 30 without too much trouble (turn out using all those elixir you gather during the game makes things really easy if you use them).