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The Secrets of Final Fantasy VII's Success


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scowler



Joined: 30 May 2009
Posts: 57
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2020 1:39 pm Reply with quote
I think I put 120 hours into this game in '97-'98. Leveled up Knights of Round, beat all the Weapons, the works. I was in university then, my GPA might have taken a hit one semester...

Summer of 2015, this remake game was announced at E3, I bought a PS4 a few days later, eagerly awaiting the release. Little did I know then it would be a nearly 5 year wait.

Now, maybe a dozen hours into the game, going at a leisurely pace, just enjoying the amazing visuals. This active combat system is harder for us middle-aged folks to get the hang of, who grew up on turn-based classic RPG, but "easy mode" really isn't much trouble. Maybe even too easy. I'm glad the materia system wasn't diminished too much, that was one of my favorite things about the original game.
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Kanjite Knight



Joined: 24 Apr 2020
Posts: 4
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2020 2:10 pm Reply with quote
Awesome article!
Most of the times I find myself disappointed after clicking the bait in pieces of writing with highlights such as "the secrets/unrevealed truth/origins/behind..." only to be left with no real revelations at all. Fortunatelly, I did find answers and pivotal information in this well-structured, in chronological order and straight to the point article. Even after more than a decade of followong ANN, I never felt encouraged enough to create an account to comment several others great articles that I still recall but sure this time did I enjoy reading (especially given that the remake (which I'm still struggling how yo feel about) is barely introduced in the last paragraph and instead of dealing with a further analysis, it's left for future debate. Good point in a true retrospective for the title as a whole), kudos for the writer, what a pleasure!

PS: I only found a typo in "Dirge of Cerberus unfolds a year after Adventure Children (...)" while I must nevertheless admit that I'm also hyped with Digimon Adventure: Very Happy
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AiddonValentine



Joined: 07 Aug 2006
Posts: 1787
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2020 2:12 pm Reply with quote
I think one thing that's definitely gone unsaid or at least unanalyzed is how much FFVII really broke a lot of traditions of the RPG up until that point and deconstructed a lot of cliches. Aerith for example is still the only one in the entire series to dismantle the "pure, naive maiden used as a Macguffin" archetype that the series proceeded to run into the ground with characters like Rinoa and Yuna (seriously Square, treat your female characters better; maybe have someone other than middle-aged men write them). spoiler[Heck, you can't even save her, she dies to activate Holy and her death leaves this gaping void just not in the narrative, but in the party since she was the best magic user. Most RPGs would have had a convenient replacement character, but VII makes you deal with the grief of that absence.]

And then you have the "plucky resistance" who are a bunch of morally questionable eco-terrorists who all die within the first few hours and know they had it coming due to civilian deaths, the "evil empire" replaced with a hyper-capitalist megacorp, and said megacorp is then turned into collateral when their corporate Captain America has bigger ideas and turns out to be 10000 times more terrifying. Also, it's the only game wherein summons not only are plot-irrelevant, they have no explanation whatsoever. They're just there. And that turned out to be a good thing because it made them do something different with theme and plot in hindsight whereas with entries since VII they not only dominate the narratives, the writers often twist themselves into pretzels to insert them. Maybe learn from VII and put summons in the background again, guys.

There's also Sephiroth's intro; you don't see ANYTHING of him throughout Midgar and even when he went on a rampage through the Shinra building you wonder if he might be on your side, just doing it a different way. The slow buildup with the Nibelheim flashback toys with that, showing him as a good, if distant and sardonic, man and commander. Having a villain's intro be his fall is a fascinating method I've never seen replicated and why Sephiroth is so memorable.

Of course, then came the attempts to expand the franchise...and they just didn't work. Advent Children was hyped to hell and back, but it's not a good story by any measure and really tried to shave off a lot of bite the original game had. Dirge of Cerberus is unanimously agreed to be godawful, and what fun can be derived from Crisis Core is unfortunately derailed by Genesis being a godawful retcon machine. And all of these had similar problems: they tried to played revisionist history with VII, trying to shave off the more subversive and deconstructive elements that made the game memorable. Trying to turn a deconstruction into a straightforward example never works, reality itself abhors it. You can't reverse-engineer Superman out of Watchmen, that's not how that works. And considering the work of the creative team since VII, it makes me wonder if the 1997 industry shaker wasn't just a giant fluke. Still, its place in history is forever cemented and no amount of meddlesome retconning will ever change that.


Last edited by AiddonValentine on Mon Apr 27, 2020 8:01 pm; edited 1 time in total
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meiam



Joined: 23 Jun 2013
Posts: 2664
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2020 3:02 pm Reply with quote
AiddonValentine wrote:
And then you have the "plucky resistance" who are a bunch of morally questionable eco-terrorists who all die within the first few hours and know they had it coming due to civilian deaths, the "evil empire" replaced with a hyper-capitalist megacorp, and said megacorp is then turned into collateral when their corporate Captain America has bigger ideas and turns out to be 10000 times more terrifying.

There's also Sephiroth's intro; you don't see ANYTHING of him throughout Midgar and even when he went on a rampage through the Shinra building you wonder if he might be on your side, just doing it a different way. The slow buildup with the Nibelheim flashback toys with that, showing him as a good, if distant and sardonic, man and commander. Having a villain's intro be his fall is a fascinating method I've never seen replicated and why Sephiroth is so memorable.


Spoiler for remake. spoiler[Sadly the team working on the remake completely missed these two points... Plus they'll almost certainly won't have Aerith die.]
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Barbobot



Joined: 06 Feb 2007
Posts: 458
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2020 5:09 pm Reply with quote
meiam wrote:
AiddonValentine wrote:
And then you have the "plucky resistance" who are a bunch of morally questionable eco-terrorists who all die within the first few hours and know they had it coming due to civilian deaths, the "evil empire" replaced with a hyper-capitalist megacorp, and said megacorp is then turned into collateral when their corporate Captain America has bigger ideas and turns out to be 10000 times more terrifying.

There's also Sephiroth's intro; you don't see ANYTHING of him throughout Midgar and even when he went on a rampage through the Shinra building you wonder if he might be on your side, just doing it a different way. The slow buildup with the Nibelheim flashback toys with that, showing him as a good, if distant and sardonic, man and commander. Having a villain's intro be his fall is a fascinating method I've never seen replicated and why Sephiroth is so memorable.


Spoiler for remake. spoiler[Sadly the team working on the remake completely missed these two points... Plus they'll almost certainly won't have Aerith die.]


Not to get into any of the BIG BRAIN theories floating around, but they are definitely trying to do something different this time. Regarding how Sephiroth only being something you hear about but not see for so long in the original, it would not be anywhere nearly as effective in this Remake. It was effective in the original cause Sephiroth was this mystery and you didn't know much about him. After 20+ years people know who he is now, so the same tactic wouldn't really work.

And I spoiler[fully expect Aerith to die.]
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BadNewsBlues



Joined: 21 Sep 2014
Posts: 4128
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2020 5:48 pm Reply with quote
AiddonValentine wrote:
I think one thing that's definitely gone unsaid or at least unanalyzed is how much FFVII really broke a lot of traditions of the RPG up until that point and deconstructed a lot of cliches. Aerith for example is still the only one in the entire series to dismantle the "pure, naive maiden used as a Macguffin" archetype that the series proceeded to run into the ground with characters like Rinoa and Yuna (seriously Square, treat your female characters better;


I mean none of them got a giant sword run through them so I like to think they did.
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AiddonValentine



Joined: 07 Aug 2006
Posts: 1787
PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2020 3:55 am Reply with quote
meiam wrote:
AiddonValentine wrote:
And then you have the "plucky resistance" who are a bunch of morally questionable eco-terrorists who all die within the first few hours and know they had it coming due to civilian deaths, the "evil empire" replaced with a hyper-capitalist megacorp, and said megacorp is then turned into collateral when their corporate Captain America has bigger ideas and turns out to be 10000 times more terrifying.

There's also Sephiroth's intro; you don't see ANYTHING of him throughout Midgar and even when he went on a rampage through the Shinra building you wonder if he might be on your side, just doing it a different way. The slow buildup with the Nibelheim flashback toys with that, showing him as a good, if distant and sardonic, man and commander. Having a villain's intro be his fall is a fascinating method I've never seen replicated and why Sephiroth is so memorable.


Spoiler for remake. spoiler[Sadly the team working on the remake completely missed these two points... Plus they'll almost certainly won't have Aerith die.]


I know, and that's par for the course for Kitase, Nojima, and Nomura over the past twenty years. spoiler[They keep trying to play revisionist history with FFVII similar to, say, George Lucas with Star Wars or JK Rowling with Harry Potter. They tried it before with AC, DoC, and CC, and none of them landed or stuck in the public consciousness. The original game is still the only part of the VII canon that the public cares about. This is just their latest and boldest attempt to do so...which means it's probably going to blow up in their face (AGAIN) and they're going to be stunned when it does.]
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Northlander



Joined: 10 Feb 2009
Posts: 796
PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2020 5:19 am Reply with quote
Quote:
It is speculated that a few people who purchased the game actually played Tobal No 1. before the Final Fantasy VII demo, but their existence has never been verified.

Well, let me verify at least one, then. In fact, I don't really remember Tobal no1 coming with a FF VII demo, at least not in Norway. Might be because it was released after FF VII was? Maybe?
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dragon695



Joined: 28 Nov 2008
Posts: 1375
Location: Clemson, SC
PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2020 10:17 am Reply with quote
I loathe them using the new combat system in the remake. Part of the charm of early FF was the game mechanics.
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jellybeanbandit



Joined: 18 Jun 2019
Posts: 98
PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2020 10:24 am Reply with quote
AiddonValentine wrote:
I know, and that's par for the course for Kitase, Nojima, and Nomura over the past twenty years. spoiler[They keep trying to play revisionist history with FFVII similar to, say, George Lucas with Star Wars or JK Rowling with Harry Potter. They tried it before with AC, DoC, and CC, and none of them landed or stuck in the public consciousness. The original game is still the only part of the VII canon that the public cares about. This is just their latest and boldest attempt to do so...which means it's probably going to blow up in their face (AGAIN) and they're going to be stunned when it does.]


Whether you like them or not, DoC, AC, CC, and BC are all canon and have been directly referenced since then, even in the current remake. Plenty of fans know of and acknowledge those stories and characters. Maybe the really casual mainstream "FF7 is the only good JRPG" gamer doesn't know or care, but then a lot of people who claim to be fans of FF7 clearly have never played past the first few hours of the game going by how they try to badly explain the plot of the game half the time so that's a very broad audience we're talking about here.
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meiam



Joined: 23 Jun 2013
Posts: 2664
PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2020 12:40 pm Reply with quote
jellybeanbandit wrote:


Whether you like them or not, DoC, AC, CC, and BC are all canon and have been directly referenced since then, even in the current remake. Plenty of fans know of and acknowledge those stories and characters. Maybe the really casual mainstream "FF7 is the only good JRPG" gamer doesn't know or care, but then a lot of people who claim to be fans of FF7 clearly have never played past the first few hours of the game going by how they try to badly explain the plot of the game half the time so that's a very broad audience we're talking about here.


Well there's canon and there's canon. So yes the event that happen in all the spin off are technically part of the universe. But if you ask a simple question like "when did Hojo get killed" pretty much everyone is going to say "when you stormed Midgard at the end of FF7", not "when Vincent kill omega Weiss" because the only reason people might care about the story of the spin off is because they care about the original story, and appending something to the original doesn't change the original. Even if square enix does legally own the right to the franchise, they don't own people attachment to character and event. Even if every legally available version of star wars show Han shooting second, Han shoot first.
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AiddonValentine



Joined: 07 Aug 2006
Posts: 1787
PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2020 4:03 pm Reply with quote
meiam wrote:

Well there's canon and there's canon. So yes the event that happen in all the spin off are technically part of the universe. But if you ask a simple question like "when did Hojo get killed" pretty much everyone is going to say "when you stormed Midgard at the end of FF7", not "when Vincent kill omega Weiss" because the only reason people might care about the story of the spin off is because they care about the original story, and appending something to the original doesn't change the original. Even if square enix does legally own the right to the franchise, they don't own people attachment to character and event. Even if every legally available version of star wars show Han shooting second, Han shoot first.


Pretty much and it's nothing new for media. Pretty much everyone stopped listening to George Lucas when it came to changing Star Wars and every time JK Rowling "reveals" something that's a blatant retcon to Harry Potter people leave her to scream into the void (even putting aside how she's outed herself as a horrible person). And that's basically what happened to the Compilation; the audience didn't care for it so now it's just this "Well, that happened." footnote that barely anyone remembers.
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Silver Kirin



Joined: 09 Aug 2018
Posts: 260
PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2020 5:31 pm Reply with quote
I was very young when FFVII came out and never owned a PS, and altohugh I had some friends and relatives who owned a PS they didn't have any FF, I guess because RPGs were too text heavy and none of them were translated into spanish (Sony didn't have an official presence in Latin America until the PS3 era). So it wasn't until I got more into retro gaming due in part to a Nintendo magazine I used to read that I began to know more about the FF series and then when my English skills improved and began using the Internet I discovered that FFVII was the best selling one.
During highschool I managed to get a copy of VII and play it on my PS2 and to my surprise it was the European Spanish version... the bad news was that the translation was even worse than the English version, but nonetheless I played it and despite the game being more that ten years old at that time I could understand why it was considered so influential compared to previous titles. It was a totally different experience, the futuristic world, the anime art style, the characters, less restrictions that affected what Square could do in the Nintendo era, and it was very fun to play. It took me some time but I managed to beat the game and I even got the Knights of the Round materia.
I don't have a PS4 so I haven't played the remake, but I've seen some of the changes and I think only time will tell how this will compare to the original. I'd say that I wish Square just made a remake similar to what Capcom did with RE1 on the GCN, but the expectations for FFVIIR were so big that they had to treat it like a mainline title. That's the only thing I don't like about the legacy of FVII, is like every main FF game that Square makes (with the exception of IX and XII) wants to be another FFVII, so I can't imagine something like IV or VI with modern graphics. But I still want to play the remake.
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Gina Szanboti



Joined: 03 Aug 2008
Posts: 8850
PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2020 1:59 am Reply with quote
Not a gamer and never played any of the FF games (have only seen the movies), so I can't contribute anything to the discussion. I just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading the article anyway, and found the tooltip captions amusing. Very Happy
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jl07045



Joined: 30 Aug 2011
Posts: 1509
Location: Riga, Latvia
PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2020 4:55 am Reply with quote
AiddonValentine wrote:
Pretty much and it's nothing new for media. Pretty much everyone stopped listening to George Lucas when it came to changing Star Wars and every time JK Rowling "reveals" something that's a blatant retcon to Harry Potter people leave her to scream into the void (even putting aside how she's outed herself as a horrible person). And that's basically what happened to the Compilation; the audience didn't care for it so now it's just this "Well, that happened." footnote that barely anyone remembers.


There are plenty of people who were introduced to FF7 through Kingdom Hearts or Advent Children and never played the OG or played it afterwards.
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