The year is 1997, many big events happen during that year that shook the world. Hong Kong returns to China, Princess Diana passed away in a tragic accident, global events that everyone paid attention to their news outlet. However, to many gamers of the generations, one very important video game was released in 1997 and continues to stay relevant to fans, it is “Final Fantasy VII”.
The Game Changer Arrives
Puns aside, “Final Fantasy VII” (FFVII) was indeed a game-changer in many fields and they continue to make influences to many people around the world. In the early 1990s, video game consoles venture into the fifth generations and the world will see the emergence of 3D graphic gaming as the mainstream for the very first time. One of the newcomers in the industry is Sony’s PlayStation, rocking some of the most advance spec in the machine and third-party developer-friendly approach, PlayStation slowly became one of the most important gaming consoles of the fifth generation. Obviously, Squaresoft, now known as Square Enix, decided to bring their flagship series to PlayStation, the latest entry of the series, “FFVII”.
Series creator and producer, Sakaguchi Hironobu, suffered from the loss of his mother, created the overall theme of FFVII. FFVII story revolves around several themes, from what I can determine, there are two themes. There are as follows:
- Sense of lost and getting stronger by embracing and overcome that lost
- Parenthood by blood or by relationship
The characters and I dare say ALL the major characters went through a certain level of pain after losing something or someone important to them. The interesting thing about these characters is that all of them grow to be a better person, those who did not overcome their loss were corrupted by their grief and become monsters. Not only that, but FFVII also focuses a lot on parenthood. It tackles the notion of “what does it take to be a parent, blood or relationship?” and it was very prominent to any player playing the game. One example and I would not give spoilers to the story, in the game, there is one character who adopted a friend’s young daughter despite having no children himself. He became a very caring father throughout the story and his motivation to do what he does is his daughter. In contrast to this specific character, the main villain went absolutely on the opposite side after learning the truth about his birth, which in the end lead him to do many horrific deeds.
When I played the game way back in 1998, I was too young to understand the deeper meaning of the game, I only understand the cool looking characters and blood pumping battle in the game. Only when I was a little older, I start to understand the story and were blown away by its story. The way that Sakaguchi created the story based on his real-life experiences, splitting his experience on several characters in the game, shows the craftmanship in his storytelling.
Being the first game in the series to adapt the 3D graphic, the developers faced many technical issues as there are not enough references in the industry for what they are about to create. When players around the world finally got their hands on the game, we were blown away by the graphic. It was a game in the 90s, it cannot be compared with the modern video games, but the technical achievement they made is mind-boggling. Developers cleverly used pre-rendered backgrounds to save space, at the same time allow developers to place camera and lighting at specific places to create a cinematic experience not seen in games before. FFVII is also one of the first few games to utilize CGI in gaming, creating exciting cinematic sequences for the world to awe at, the summoning sequence is one good example of those graphics in-game.
Music was phenomenal as well, veteran music composer Uematsu Nobuo, created the music tracks for the game. Out of all the tracks, fans would not deny that “One-Winged Angel” is the most recognizable music piece of the game, if not of the entire series.
A large number of quests to do in-game was also unheard of during the fifth generations, collectibles in-game that assist the player to be more efficient in battle allow the player to seek out every single item to beat the almost undefeatable optional bosses. It is very easy to invest more than 50 hours into the game before all stones are turned.
Impact It Had on Me
As mentioned above, I was too young to understand the game and its story when I played it. When I got older, the story hit me like a brick fired from a canon. It is the first time I ever felt the importance of a person’s past and experience to his or her growth, and I witness many people in real life with several issues, growing up to be a good or bad person depends on how they eventually accept their past. It gave me a different perspective on looking at life, looking at my own past experiences and how they shaped me into who I am right now, enduring and overcome your past will make you stronger.
As soon as I enter my adulthood, I still occasionally go back to visit the world of FFVII to experience the magic again. Right now, working in the creative industry, it impacted me on how I create my work. FFVII is one of the few entertainments that combines narrative, deeper meaning, music, and interaction in a cohesive manner, creating a good glass of wine that everyone loves. I remember how the music always made sure that players feel the emotion when they reached a certain point of the game, especially that one scene. The way that the music made me feel all kinds of emotions. Ask any fans, they can identify which scene it was.
FFVII is one of my main influences when I write any story and put it to film, I always consider music as one of the key components to tell a story, I make sure that my film contains a certain level of deep meaning to my characters’ backstory. Other than my creative project, FFVII also taught me an important life lesson. It taught me to understand a person’s past, sometimes people became who they are right now because they cannot overcome their history and friends like us is essential to help them to be a better person.
Reliving the Legend
In June 2015, I was sitting in front of my computer, looking at the so-called “Final Fantasy VII Remake” teaser. I could not believe my eyes, as time and time again, Square Enix had denied any possibility of an FFVII Remake since they release a technical demo of PlayStation 3, rendering the opening of FFVII. Approximately two minutes later, I roared in extreme excitement along with all the fans around the world, that a remake of FFVII is in the works. It was once deemed impossible and every fan gave up any hope as the year passed by. In order to ride on the hype train, Watanabe Coffee customized their shop into a pop-up Final Fantasy VII Remake themed café. Patrons can order a set meal and receive two random coaster and a dining mat, if you ordered any individual items, you may also receive a random coaster. The café is filled with standees of key artwork, posters, and even the Kai Art action figure. If you are a huge fan of FFVII, this place is a must to fill up your hype for the remake.
Right now, on the 10th of April 2020, after a month of delay from its original release date in March, fans and other players can finally get their hands on the remake. Please be minded, although, through multiple interviews and press conferences, Square Enix has mentioned that this remake is just the first part of the whole project, which will cover to the point when the characters escaped Midgar.
At the time of writing this article, everyone in Singapore should be under the Circuit Breaker period, which means everyone must stay at home to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the best time for anyone to relive this legend from 23 years ago, in modern gaming technology and modern graphics. For all the fans, let your inner child that has been sleeping for more than two decades awake once again, for the reunion.