What Made Final Fantasy VII Special

What Made Final Fantasy VII Special

As the new year rolls on, so does Worth Reading, our weekly collection of the best games writing around the web. Here's what I've found.

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What Made Final Fantasy VII Special

"The afterimage of Final Fantasy VII" by Christian Nutt

A remake of Final Fantasy VII, despite Square Enix's public reservations about the project over the years, always seemed inevitable. But it's a bit like a dog catching the squirrel it's been chasing around the yard: what now? Christian Nutt has been replaying Final Fantasy VII, and crystallised the daunting task in front of Tetsuya Nomura and everyone else. It's not merely about revamping the visuals of a game from 1997, it's about retaining the heart and soul of a design philosophy Square Enix has largely distanced itself from in the years since.

Here's an excerpt from the piece:

The Final Fantasy of the 1990s was steeped in humour, both gentle and overt; of late, the games have gotten more bombastic and pompous. The majority of the humour in the largely nonsensical 2005 Final Fantasy VII film, Advent Children, was inadvertent. If anything, things have gotten worse since then. What little comic relief there is, is generally cringe-worthy, even perplexing.

I'm talking about humour here, but what I really mean is broader than that. What I'm talking about could be called "humanity," maybe — spirit and verve. Final Fantasy VII has a lot of all of that, and it comes across in a lot of different ways. With its tale of a world divided, the original Final Fantasy XIII tried to recapture the tragedy of Midgar, but it got lost amidst a tremendously artificial setting that did a great job of painting hallways of frozen crystal and glowing trees but completely failed to portray any cohesive (or comprehensible) world at all.

Sure, Cloud is as cool as frost, and he's definitely got fabulous hair, but without photorealistic rendering, the focus in 1997 didn't zero in on the protagonist and his party. An eclectic spirit underpins the creativity of Final Fantasy VII; Final Fantasy XIII director Motomu Toriyama told me how the studio finds the democratic, collaborative development style of the older games nearly impossible to execute in its modern, huge-scale productions, but it's going to have to figure out a way to do so, or a remade Final Fantasy VII will end up as simply another fashion show. Without humans, there is no human element.

What Made Final Fantasy VII Special
What Made Final Fantasy VII Special

"Women are winning in Pakistan's gaming industry" by Rizwan Syed

It's easy to forget how widespread games have become, even though we commonly think about them being made in only a few places — US, Japan, Europe and so on. And while we're more accustomed to hearing about places like Pakistan for geopolitical reasons, Rizwan Syed shows how games are flourishing in unexpected places. W R Play is interesting, as 43 per cent of its workforce is women. The story touches on why this leads to some, uh, unique problems:

Sadia Zia has been with We R Play since shortly after it launched. A senior manager for internal projects, Zia was the sixth person hired and has led the company's diversity strategy from the front to build a female-friendly environment. She pushed for separate women's bathrooms at the company and off-campus retreats for the female employees to bond.

Zia manages both men and women, which she said can be challenging. A study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin in July 2015 found that male subordinates often feel threatened by female managers. Zia said her male employees sometimes react in similar ways.

"Some of the guys do have ego issues, I would say. Like taking orders from women is not good for them, maybe. So you know, especially when it comes to conveying some work-related issues [and I say] 'You did not do this correctly', that would be really hard for me. Because instead of accepting their mistakes they would become defensive," Zia said.

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  • Adi Roberston lamented the lack of consideration VR tech has for the size and shape of women, reflecting how her gender is often an afterthought.
  • Rami Ismail outlined what it's like to be someone with a name that constantly finds themselves flagged by various government watch lists.
  • Will Partin chronicled what happened during the final moments of various MMOs. It's surprisingly tragic.
  • DJ Pangburn spoke with someone who spent 48 hours in VR.
  • Radiolab went behind-the-scenes with the developers of the emotionally charged That Dragon, Cancer to learn why they made the game.


    I'm going to wager that square enix have no idea what makes final fantasy 7 special and they will make a game that somehow manages to disappoint everyone.

    In my opinion there hasn't been a good final fantasy game since Square Soft ceased to exist.

      But 9 was great. 8 was quite good. I think what makes 7 so special is how much plot twist it had and the amount of hidden stuff in the game was huge

        Yeah, I'm counting everything after 10 as being a square enix game and for me that's when the magic faded.

        All the PS1 Final Fantasy's were top notch. Final Fantasy 10 was more linear but still felt special.

    To be honest the only thing that made VII special was that it was the first game done in 3D. Most people remember it so fondly because it was the first game in the series that they played. To make the new game special, you'd need to step into the unknown again in terms of technology advancement. The way to achieve this, would be to make the reboot a VR title.

      I just don't buy this at all. The 'it's the first game ppl played in the series' line is regularly used in relation to FFVII yet it's almost unheard of in relation to any other game series.

      Metal Gear Solid was also a massive jump from what Metal Gear games had previously been, and was my first game in the series (and for many people), and yet I also consider MGS3 and 4 to be significantly better.

      GTA3.... Again, a massive technological improvement from the past titles in the series. Probably for many people the first GTA they ever played. Yet it wouldn't rank in ppl's "best GTA game" conversations.

      Half Life was largely the first truly story-driven FPS game (and I personally skipped the quake games but had played Doom and Wolfenstein), and yet I'll happily say that HL2 is my favourite FPS game ever made. Nothing before or since has topped it.

      And yet despite having played and finished all FF's from 5 to 13 (excluding 11) I still hold FFVII well above any other game in the series. The game just has so many qualities. Yes, it was the first I played in the series, but so was MGS. For many people, so was GTA3. For many people, HL would be their first FPS.

        I think the difference between FF7 and the other titles you mentioned is that the other titles took the core gameplay and changed it for the better. All the GTAs play the same, but with a different coat of paint. MGS3 has the same core mechanics as MGS, but improved it in just about every area, and had arguably the best story in the series.

        FF7 on the other hand, is very much standalone in the series. Each game has very different gameplay mechanics, and a completely different story. It is the first in the series I played, and no game in the series has actually improved on FF7. It hit that fine balance for me between simple yet deep gameplay, great characters and story.

          But that's kind of my point; the fact that FFVII is well liked, has little or nothing to do with the fact that you, me and others played it first, but rather that it is made up of good gameplay, characters, story etc.

          Flippant comments like "Most people remember it so fondly because it was the first game in the series that they played" are what I'm arguing against, and that's why I'm using the GTA3 et al examples. I'm saying "Most people remember it so fondly because it was actually a fucking good game".

          Last edited 18/01/16 4:03 pm

    Having replayed FFVII last year I found what made the game great was the amount of 'masked' freedom you had and the amount of mini-games involved. It felt like there was enough variety in activities so it paced really well. It felt like a grind when you wanted to do optional things like fighting Ultimas, however these are not necessary to do to complete the main quest and appealed to a hardcore base as well.

    FFXIII on the other hand got tired real fast, it relied too heavily on combat as the only means of entertainment. Minimal mini-games, linear corridor story telling, monotonous combat was its failure.

    with the ffvii remake on the way, i wonder if any of the old glitches would be kept for it. as the old versions had so many of them.

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