Well, I’ve come to the game that launched a thousand spin-offs, FFVII. To my surprise, I’m really looking forward to replaying it again, although like VI it has some draggy bits where I’ve gotten stuck and abandoned it on previous playthroughs.
My history with VII is convoluted. It’s actually the first Final Fantasy that I ever glimpsed. At the time, I was absorbed with Marathon and Tomb Raider 2 and (especially) MYST fandom. I visited friends who were playing FFVII, and they showed me the rocket launch sequence.
Old-school fans playing Final Fantasy VII: *squealing brakes* Hold everything! When does Final Fantasy start? I bought a frickin’ Final Fantasy game, and you’re foisting SF on me? Where the heck is this coming from? What does this have to do with Final Fantasy!?
Mythology major: Gee, I’m glad you asked that question.
Into Midgar we go! I hope I don’t bore you with my Maechen imitation, but I’m seeing so many things now that I didn’t understand the first time I played FFVII. Warning: there will be spoilers referring to events later in the game.
The opening FMV is still a lot of fun, with retro CGI graphics transitioning smoothly into live gameplay.
While I’ve been enjoying my 8 month sojourn in 16bit/retroland, it feels luxurious to come back to a PS1 game with backgrounds detailed enough for storefronts. (I briefly misread “Goblins Bar” as “Goblins Ban[k]” and was thinking, “Gringotts” even though this game predates HP.) And yep, there’s Loveless, a play that’s referenced in most of the FF7 spinoffs. Someday I need to get my hands on Crisis Core.
Aeris’ etherial appearance contrasted with urban grunge is a startling juxtaposition, reminding me of my own experience moving from green countryside to the big city (which I’ve since fled). She walks the old-school players out of the shadows and into the Brave New World of FF7, where the visual setting is now a major (if not the dominant) character in the story, as it will be for all future FFs.
Next up, Final Fantasy VII descends unexpectedly into Scum and Villainy with a side helping of burlesque. I will also attempt to explain the Mysterious Voice in Cloud’s Head.
But first, we need to meet the third corner of Cloud’s pointy little love triangle. Whom I love, despite Squeenix dropping heaps of overhype on her tombstone. Did I mention this walkthrough would have spoilers?
Which brings me to the most difficult and challenging, thorny and complex issue of this entire game. No, it’s not Cloti versus Clerith, which sounds like dueling nasal sprays. This issue is much more challenging, and has riven fandom to the core…
Last time, we psychoanalyzed the most blockheaded hero in the history of gaming…
…and put him through his paces as a cross-dresser and champion of put-upon sex workers (in which task he failed miserably, since we left Don Corneo alive with his family jewels intact. Phooey).
Reluctantly, I must set Wall Market frivolity aside and get back to saving the Planet.
Woo hoo! It’s time to head out of town and tackle the world map. A whole new wooooorld! A new enchaaanting point of v… good gods, what is this trash heap? Oh, right, Midgar.
Actually, before we can start gadding about, we must egress the Shinra building where I left Cloud hanging. (Or was that Rufus?)
Okay, Nibelheim Backstory Dump over. Now we can explore the world map. Guided by random npcs saying “a man in a black cape went thataway,” we pack our bento boxes and strike out across the Midgar Marshes.
Oh look, a planarian! They have the cutest woogly googly eyes.
Uh oh… it seems…hungry?
So, last time on Let’s Play the Most Famous Final Fantasy Ever, we dorked around in a soldier’s uniform, stuffed Barret into a sailor suit, got shafted at the Gold Saucer, and adopted a self-described “Fortune-telling machine” in the shape of Felix the Cat riding a blancmange. Also, Barret taught us that the best way to deal with catastrophic loss is to claim all the blame so that you can pretend you had some control over the situation.
The most recent “Sephiroth went thataway” npc told us to seek Gongaga. Or maybe Dio thought we’d “gone gaga” when he saw we’d let Caith Sith into the party. En route, we’re pounced by a leggy girl with a ginormous throwing star. Because, up until FFVIII or so, Everything Is Better with Ninjas.
Bets on whether her fireball-chucking, spark-casting abilities will disappear once we recruit her?
(I was trying to pick HER pocket. Silly me. She’s the thief.)
Last time on Let’s Play Final Fantasy VII, we picked up a ninja in a random encounter and stuffed her in a Bag of Holding, cruelly refused to tell Zack’s parents what happened to him, visited Nanaki’s people and had our hearts wrenched, visited the hometown of Tifa and Cloud and had our heebies jeebied, and picked up one of Hojo’s lab experiments taking a nap in a casket. (As opposed to Morgan Freeman’s Vincent taking a bath in a casket.)
Then we headed into the mountains north of Nibelheim where—
AUUUGH I haven’t saved in an hour blammmity blam blam flail flail hack slash bite maul… oh. Oops. There was a really powerful blue magic spell that we could’ve learned from this thing, wasn’t there?
Moving right along…
Ragtag party assembled, it’s time to break into the Temple of the Ancients. But first, we need a key to unlock the Path of Plot Advancement.
We drag our reluctant tails back to the Gold Saucer. Speaking of which, I missed a spiffy FMV during our first visit, when I was trying to take Aeris around for a date. Check out the Gondola ride starting around 11:00.
Sorry, Aeris. Let’s pretend my Cloud took you on that date earlier, okay? You’re allowed to call me cheesebrain.
All right, back in the present…