After hearing conversations about bits of the game coming up again and again in various places, and constantly drooling over the two Advent Children trailers that I've found so far, I finally decided to go back and replay Final Fantasy VII. It's been *ages* since I've done so... I got it back when it first came out, and I think the last time I went back to start a playthrough was maybe a year or so after it came out. Maybe.
And yes, I still have like a stack of games that I either haven't finished, or haven't even played at all (although most of my games I've at least tried out and amused myself for a while with, or just decided I plain didn't like them and wouldn't bother). But yet I still.. can't... resist! So since I'm going back and doing thitime in a looong while to play this game.s, I thought hell, I might as well share some of my thoughts upon going back for the first time in a looong while to play this game.
As a quick background, I'm perilously close to one of those people who didn't play a videogame until seeing the Final Fantasy commercial, drooling over it, and picking this up as a first introduction to video games/RPGs. Now, I owned an Atari 2600, and played the hell out of it. I also owned a Nintendo system, and a Sega Genesis, and I played and absolutely adored all of the Dragon Warrior games, which at least gives me some old-school cred. The thing is though that I never realized that these were part of a whole genre, the "RPG," and instead thought that this one series was pretty much unique in that style. And of course being a girl (and everyone KNOWS, especially back then, that girls don't enjoy video games) none of my friends, even the boys, talked about video games with me, or introduced the various types, or whatever.
So when I saw the commercials for the new game coming out, Final Fantasy VII, and got the idea that it was at least somewhat similar to the Dragon Warrior games in style, I HAD to have it. So I got my Playstation (which I still own and which still works... barely) and a copy of the game for an early Christmas present, and played the living hell out of it. I was... in awe. Then a friend who was working at Software Etc. (a very brand-new store in our mall at the time) temporarily used her employee discount to buy me the first Suikoden as her Christmas present, after finding out that I got the PSX... and that was pretty much all she wrote.
So I have great memories of FFVII even outside the gameplay itself, so this is pretty nostalgic for me. It's also weird, because now I'm playing the game on my PS2, and with a much larger-screen TV than before... so now how does it stack up to my memories?
Even cracking open the manual for the first time in years was a trip. For one thing, I've realized that even though I'm still one of the few, the proud, the Manual Readers, I'm a lot more impatient about it nowadays. I used to devour every bit of text before even popping the game into the machine... now it's more of an impatient "yeah yeah, words words words, battle system, words words words, character intro... is this book done yet?" With a little bit of skipping ahead if it looks like the manual is covering the absolute basics. There's just too much gaming to be done!
It's also weird sitting here reading about how this game is the *first* PSX RPG to cover 3 discs. Wow, after having so many multi-disc games a bit later in the life of the console, that's just.. weird to remember. Same with this being the first 3D Final Fantasy game. *boggle*
And the characters... I remember being under the impression that the characters were awful young. Now, going back and looking at their ages in the manual, they seem like Dinos! I mean, these people are actually LEGAL! A lot older than I remember, especally compared to what I've gotten used to in RPGs. I wonder if this will eventually change again now that the installed player-base is getting steadily older?
I also remember this weird control system, and thinking it odd when other games (like Suikoden) had pretty much opposite action and cancel buttons. Now going back, It seems odd that this ever felt "normal." Hrmph. Even after getting back into the game for a couple hours, I'm trying to hit Circle to run and cancel things, and X to talk to someone much of the time.
It's also weird to flip through the back of the manual and see the "upcoming" video games, Saga Frontier (I loved it, most hated it, sniff) and Final Fantasy Tactics. I admit it, I was a sheep - I bought FFT when it very first came out because of enjoying FFVII so much and hoping that FFT would bring me a similar level of enjoyment. And it did, and I'm so glad in this case that I was in a rush to go get it, knowing how hard it got to be to find it for a while. Classic classic game. But I digress.
After actually popping the game into my console and starting it, the first thing that struck me was basically "oh my god... THESE graphics blew me away?" It's just *so* bizarre to go back and see the blocky sprites, the stuff animation, etc., and remember just how great the graphics were at the time. Or at least how they struck me as such - although granted that was mostly the FMV I think. Still, I didn't remember the in-game sprites being quite that... well, primitive. Once I got into my first fight and saw the in-combat sprites things got a bit better, but still. Yeesh. Looking at Cloud in this game and then looking at him in the Advent Children trailers is just completely jarring.
I'm also thinking of the rumors that were flying around for a while of a possible remake of FFVII for the PS2, with updated graphics, etc. And while I'd love that even more now, after looking at the sprites here... I'm also suddenly getting into the story, and noticing how you're part of a group that's called (multiple times) a terrorist group, and you're going around blowing up public buildings... and I just think that's *not* gonna fly these days. Damnit.
I'd also forgotten just how neat the materia system was, although part of that's because at the time I didn't realize just how different and yet useable it was, compared to a lot of the usual magic/skill systems in RPGs. And as much as I soooo want to see Advent Children, now suddenly I can't help but wish they'd also bring out a "true sequel" to FFVII as well, one with the same basic gameplay system (as opposed to FFX and FFX-2).
And having just done the part with Cloud as a girl... I really hope that makes it as a quick "flashback" scene in Advent Children so that we can see with *clear* graphics just how he looks as a girl. ;) Yeah, I'm weird.
And as a final note, it's weird to go back from the start and see the gradual, almost trivial references to Sephiroth, and remember how he started out as a complete enigma, with only a brief mention in the manual and half-obscured head-shot to go off as a reference.
Oooo, this is gonna be fun!
Wow, so that was, ah, long. Anyhow, I'll post any more impressions as I come to them.