A few weeks ago I was eager to re-experience Final Fantasy VII after its release on PS Vita as a PSOne Classic. I report with no shame that I am unable to finish the game. It’s not due to Final Fantasy VII‘s difficulty or failing to understand the Materia system — the game isn’t worth my time.
I quit Final Fantasy VII shortly after exiting Midgar. Yes, I’ve heard it gets better. Yes, it’s still early in the game. My inner gamer whispers that I should forge ahead; that same gamer voice shouts that I should put the game down and pick up Ys Seven. I wavered for a bit until Terry Lewis, friend, head honcho at The Other View, and Final Fantasy VII die-hard mentioned that there’s a lot of silly fluff that he’d forgotten in the game until he too started playing through it recently. I figured that if he, a Final Fantasy VII superfan (or former superfan?) recognizes the silliness (snowboarding, dating scene), I should have no qualms in deleting the file from my memory card. Not that I needed that nudging, but still.
I understand what slighting Final Fantasy VII means in the online gaming community. It’s like questioning Jesus’ existence. Final Fantasy VII has been a point of contention among RPG fans since its 1997 debut, simultaneously being the best and most overrated series entry. That’s pretty remarkable, really. How many video games elicit such passion among its base? I understand both views, actually, as Final Fantasy VII is both a technical achievement and a hodge-podge of many bizarre and poorly planned elements that are memorable and disastrous.
The story is the main issue among many — I don’t care about the characters or their motivations. The lack of hooks led to a lack of interest. Plus, the stars all have the same voice, except for Barrett who oddly benefits by being a hilarious stereotype and/or Mr. T clone.
The problem with a bland RPG is this: If the story doesn’t intrigue, you have nothing to fall back on. Navigating menus isn’t fun. Neither is watching the same spell/attack animations for the twentieth time. The combat that I initially enjoyed has gone flat. An action game with a bad/goofy/ho-hum/average story, however, can overcome that flaw by delivering thrilling combat.
There’s no backup for Final Fantasy VII. Hence, there’s no reason to go on.
So where does this leave me and my relationship with Final Fantasy VII? I respect its importance in terms of drawing people into the role-playing genre; it’s the To The Extreme of RPGs, if you will. Final Fantasy VII is a work that carried a spark in its moment of shine, but ultimately isn’t something to be revisited lest you reveal its true dullness.