The Canon: Final Fantasy VII (Part 1)

(Aw shit, he started with an obvious one.) Yes, for my first selection into The Canon, I have selected one of the most highly praised games from the past 20 years. I make this selection without having actually played more than five hours of it. (Wait, you haven’t played this, yet will make an argument that it belongs in the collected video game works of this era? That’s weird.) Please allow me to throw in some very anecdotal evidence for why final Fantasy VII should probably belong in the video game canon despite only having started this game this past week.

Since the age of five (1997) I have heard almost nonstop how amazing of an experience this game is. I have finally vowed to play FFVII to see for myself if I agree with the hype of the experience. I am not very far in, but that is why this is just part one. In this post I will dive into some of the notable features of FFVII that aren’t necessarily provided by playing it for the first time in 2016. So, here are some canon worthy aspects I hope to break down in this post: technological achievement at the time, market impact and cultural impact post release. My second post (date TBD) will cover plot, gameplay, characters, music, etc.

Technological Achievement- If we were covering strictly the Final Fantasy series, FFVII would be a major turning point in game history. Compared to FFVI, FFVII stands as a major technological leap in graphic realism. The 3D sprites look like Playmobil characters but they can move in a 3D environment with different angles, which is pretty neat compared to the previous FF generations.

When placed in the realm of games not titled Final Fantasy, FFVII still stands as a great example of the generation. The video cut scenes set it apart from many contemporary games, even if they caused the game to be spread over three discs. If The Canon concerns itself with jumps in technology, then FFVII certainly fits the bill (along with other games) for the time period.

Market Impact Post Release- While sales do not indicate if a game is “good”, they do show how many people played that game. Additionally if the Steam, PS3, PS4, and mobile sales are taken into account, it can show how many people want FFVII to stick around, or want to try an almost 20 year old RPG (like myself). Here’s how the numbers break down:

FFVII was the second highest selling PSONE game with 9.72 million units. It was second only to Gran Turismo. That number has been boosted by rereleases on modern platforms so the number is somewhere over 11 million. While 11 million is impressive, it doesn’t fit in to the all time best sellers list, which is filled primarily with pack-in games and blockbuster franchise games. However, FFVII is the best selling Final Fantasy game, and one of the best selling JRPG games. Additionally, FFVII has led to a film, character appearances in numerous games, and a much hyped remake, so its economic power is not determined solely by sales of their game.

Cultural Impact- I knew all of the FFVII characters before ever trying to play it. Cloud and the gang, along with their enemy Sephiroth, are possibly the most recognizable cast of a JRPG. They are prominent side characters in the Kingdom Hearts series, and Cloud can even pop up in Smash Bros 4, despite never having been associated with Nintendo. At E3 2015, the Final Fantasy VII Remake was announced. It’s being billed as full reimagining of the FFVII story for modern consoles. Now, if that announcement were for another 18 year old game, the response may not have been as intense. FFVII isn’t an easily forgotten game. Video game enthusiasts know FFVII whether or not they have played the game, the same way people know classics books and stories they have never read. It’s part of the culture.

Now, enjoy the current remake trailers:

Thanks for reading, next week I will be discussing a console. I will conclude my thoughts on FFVII once I have played through it, so that may take a while.

-Peter

One thought on “The Canon: Final Fantasy VII (Part 1)

  1. Pingback: The Canon: The Gamecube

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