I loved the original Final Fantasy, half-inch box characters and in all of their 8-bit glory. You got to walk, sail and fly around a world that looked like Middle Earth and fight random creatures as you walk across the world. Of course I picked up Final Fantasy II (which was the fourth installment of the series, but only second released at the time in the United States) for the Super Nintendo. This was the first time we got actual characters instead of stock characters to choose from (and name yourself).
Really one of the few reasons why when it was time to choose a next generation council I went with Playstation despite being a Nintendo guy for the previous half decade or so was because the next Final Fantasy installment released in the states was a Playstation exclusive (that and the Nintendo Cube just looked weird). Even though it was only the third in the series, the newest installment was given its proper Final Fantasy VII name even if it left people like me scratching their heads wondering what happened to III-VI (keep in mind this was in the early days of the internet before we even thought to Google it to find out what was going on, mostly because Google did not exist back then).
Right out the box you new Final Fantasy VII, this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame, was going to be something different and epic. Seriously, you open it up and there are three CD’s. After hours of game play, they would actually ask you to put in a new disk. That is just how grand the game was. And not like today when marketers boast three disks but those three disks turn out to be a blu-ray, DVD, and digital copy of the same movie, this was three disks of gaming content. There was also a big shift of setting, where the first two (American) games looked like olden times Middle Earth type place, Final Fantasy VII opens up in what looks like an industrialized future .
Then there were the graphic. Sure they may look laughably bad fifteen years and two gaming generations later, but they were jaw dropingly beautiful back their compared to their 8-bit counterparts. Even the music was significantly better. There was even a actual pop song included instead of the usual 8-bit blips and beeps. Instead of the block like fighters, there were actual three-dimension characters that actually looked like real people. The game was so expansive that you could actually play the whole game and not even met all the playable characters. Like previous games, these characters had their how skill sets and weapons, but they seemed even more individual in this game. The game also introduced a new way of fighting. You would still go into battle randomly as you walk the world, but during the fights there was a time gauge with different characters and enemies filling their gauge faster than others adding even more strategy into to the fighting.
As great as the graphics were at the time, the real reason to play Final Fantasy VII was a great story line. You first play a Cloud, a mercenary for hire who joins a rag tag resistance group as they try to keep an evil soldier Sephiroth from destroying the planet. The game is also most notable for what is widely considered the most shocking death ever in a video game. Not that I was shock because while playing one day, a friend walked in and asked if I got to part where the chick dies. Although I ended up being shocked that Aerith actually stayed dead. I assumed after she was killed by Sephiroth, Cloud would find a way to resurrect her, but never thought she would actually stay dead until the credits rolled. Despite the dated graphic, Final Fantasy VII is still worth playing by either dusting of the Playstation disks or it is even now available for download on the Playstation Network (but not an HD version that everyone has not been patiently waiting for).