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Final Fantasy VII (Switch) Review

by David Lloyd - April 4, 2019, 10:08 am PDT
Total comments: 10

9.5

The RPG that defined a generation finally receives a port on the last console thought possible.

As we grow older and move on to new phases in our lives, our tastes change. Time becomes a more valuable commodity. Culture continuously evolves and what was once considered entertaining has become stale or out of touch. It’s for these reasons that going back to play an old classic can be a dangerous gambit. We don’t want to taint the memories of our formative years but quite often the expectation of joy eclipses reality. For many RPG fans now in their late 20s and 30s, Final Fantasy VII was a transformative experience during a time of multiple crossroads. Not only were kids who grew up with Nintendo becoming teenagers, but the industry itself was transitioning to a new future of console gaming. Unlike some of its peers, Final Fantasy VII has withstood the test of time. It’s still just as good as memory suggests and some modern improvements keep it thoroughly entertaining for old and new fans alike.

It’s true that with each passing year, games designed at the beginning of the 3D era continue to look dated. The low polygonal designs just haven’t aged as well when compared to the sprites that adorned the SNES classics. However, just about every other aspect of Final Fantasy VII feels timeless. The journey of an ex-SOLDIER who joins a rogue group of eco-terrorists to take on an evil corporation hell bent on profits at the cost of innocent lives is a story that feels even more relatable today. An incredibly strong opening full of battles against the Shinra Corporation in the streets of Midgar immediately sets the stakes.

As the scope broadens into a vast open world full of beautiful storytelling and delightful side-quests, a steady stream of unforgettable moments dot the narrative right through to the conclusion. The impact of the story is reinforced with a legendary soundtrack composed by Final Fantasy veteran, Nobuo Uematsu. The tone of the surroundings are flawlessly communicated by the music, such as the foreboding theme while traveling the streets of Midgar. Unfortunately, the music bug that has plagued so many of the recent Final Fantasy ports is present, causing a reset of the soundtrack upon each battle. It’s certainly a source of irritation, especially if you’ve played the original, but by no means does it make this port unplayable.

Now well into my adulthood, I no longer have the limitless hours I once had as a teenager and luckily Square Enix has addressed this with a number of modern improvements. The option to turn off random encounters, increase the in-game time threefold, and refill your meters in battle are all a button press away. Having the modifiers accessible through a button allows for game flow to proceed unimpeded, a vast improvement over the in-menu implementation seen in Final Fantasy IX. A modernization that did miss the mark was a graphical upgrade to character and enemy design that comes off as cold and lacking personality when compared to the original, not to mention looking out of place with the still original backgrounds.

Apart from a preference to the original character design and having to endure the dreaded music bug, I would still call Final Fantasy VII on Switch the definitive option to travel back to Midgar. The portability of the Switch and pick-up-and-play nature provides enough modern convenience to give old fans a reason to replay and new fans an excuse to try it. The battle between Cloud and Sephiroth brought mainstream appeal to JRPGs in the West back in the ‘90s, and it still has that universal appeal to be enjoyed by new generations of gamers to come.

Summary

Pros
  • Classic Active Time Battle combat
  • Open world full of things to do
  • Terrific cast of characters
  • Wonderful story full of unforgettable moments
Cons
  • Graphical upgrade to characters looks odd
  • The dreaded music bug that resets the soundtrack at each battle

Talkback

Ian SaneApril 04, 2019

One thing that I think is somewhat lost if you weren't there at the time is just how incredibly cool FF7 was at the time.  The design of the characters and the settings - this was all a textbook example of what young people would have found cool in 1997.  Moreso than the chunky polygons or low res backgrounds I think that probably dates this.  I don't think a 20 year old would understand what all the fuss is about because for them the style of the game wouldn't seem hip.

To me the fondest memory of the game (and I never beat it or even got past the first disc) is the cinematic opening.  Again that might go completely over the head of a younger gamer that is used to seeing in game graphics that look superior.  At the time it looked like I was playing a movie on a home videogame system and that opening just left you in awe.  FMV was the way for games to "cheat" and show you what the game was supposed to look like if not for the limitations of the hardware.  Without the WOW factor of the presentation does this game come across as that different than the 16-bit Final Fantasy's?  I thought the gameplay was good but it feels like the presentation was the real innovation.  If you're young enough that FF4 and 9 both look old or retro to you would FF7 stand out?

ejamerApril 05, 2019

Tried playing through this game (original version) a couple of years ago.

"... Final Fantasy VII has withstood the test of time. It’s still just as good as memory suggests and some modern improvements keep it thoroughly entertaining for old and new fans alike. ..."

Nope. It's poorly paced, poorly written, lacking focus. Honestly, the game design was horribly disappointing and shortly after getting through the first disc I shelved it permanently.

If you aren't going in with nostalgia, approach with caution.

ThePermApril 05, 2019

There should be some fan project to port FFVII to n64. The cartridge would just be a playstation emulator that sends picture data to the n64.

It should be a silver cartridge.

Ian SaneApril 05, 2019

Quote from: ThePerm

There should be some fan project to port FFVII to n64. The cartridge would just be a playstation emulator that sends picture data to the n64.

It should be a silver cartridge.

See!  It could be done this whole time!

If you did that couldn't you theoretically "port" any game to the N64?

Quote from: ejamer

Tried playing through this game (original version) a couple of years ago.

"... Final Fantasy VII has withstood the test of time. It’s still just as good as memory suggests and some modern improvements keep it thoroughly entertaining for old and new fans alike. ..."

Nope. It's poorly paced, poorly written, lacking focus. Honestly, the game design was horribly disappointing and shortly after getting through the first disc I shelved it permanently.

If you aren't going in with nostalgia, approach with caution.

That's a fair perspective.  I think I could replay this game and get the warm and fuzzies each time, but after struggling with not enjoying final fantasy IX, I think a lot of my love for it is also rooted in it being released when i was a teenager and as an entrypoint into JRPGs.

ejamerApril 05, 2019

Quote from: lolmonade

Quote:

...
If you aren't going in with nostalgia, approach with caution.

That's a fair perspective.  I think I could replay this game and get the warm and fuzzies each time, but after struggling with not enjoying final fantasy IX, I think a lot of my love for it is also rooted in it being released when i was a teenager and as an entrypoint into JRPGs.

The thing about this game is that, even if it turns out you don't enjoy it (like me), it's probably worth playing just because FF7 was such a huge landmark in gaming.

Spak-SpangApril 07, 2019

I think Ian Sane is right, describing it as everything cool in the 90s.  I just didn't fall into the crowd so I didn't find that world cool and I have always had a hard time getting into turn based RPGs.

I have finished less than 10 turn based RPGs, and I don't think I could play them over again.

ThePermApril 07, 2019

Honestly, I knew the game was popular, but I could never see why.

When my friends showed it off to me they were showing off what looked to be a dated strange game.

The characters were very super-deformed and not in a good way. I wasn't impressed by FMVs because I had FMVs since years earlier on my PC. I thought the commercials hyped the shit out of it.

I thought FFVIII and IX were more impressive though. My top pic PlayStation game is Metal Gear Solid. Resident Evil comes close. I thought RE1 looked terrible, and RE2 and 3 looked great.

Spak-SpangApril 07, 2019

I remember playing Metal Gear Solid  when I had a Playstation because it was a game you were supposed to play, and it was a horrible experience.  I played it again as Twin Snakes and it was still an unenjoyable experience.  I could see why people liked it.  I could feel the polish and excitement that could be there, but it just game me stress.  Same with all horror games, so I just have to understand that those genres are good but not for me.

ThePermApril 07, 2019

The first time I played MGS I had a bad experience. It was the demo. Then I decided to play it again and it was great. I must have had camera issues the first time I played. I played the demo to the point it ends when you meet the DARPA chief. A friend gave me his copy of MGS and I played through to the second disc. Well turns out that the reason he gave it away was because the second disc didn't work.  Then I was able to play the game whole on Gamecube. The game has tense moments, but none worse than anything on the Donkey Kong arcade game. You're never in that much danger. I could see how someone would not like them much. The sequels were never particularly as appealing.

I still haven't beat most Resident Evil games. Aside from the original 2 and 4. I like them, but have wussed out on them. I have them all though. Except 3.

There was this guy in High School. I payed him 8 dollars and he was supposed to give me Resident Evil 3. I payed him and he gave me a case. Inside the case was a monopoly pc game. I came back to him the next day and said WTF Man?! The next day he brought me back Resident Evil Directors cut. Which was good enough because I wanted to play that too. I ended up renting 3. I don't have Revelations either.

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Game Profile

Genre RPG
Developer Square Enix
Players1

Worldwide Releases

na: Final Fantasy VII
Release Mar 26, 2019
PublisherSquare Enix
RatingTeen

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