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A Newcomer’s Nostalgia-Free Excitement for FFVII Remake

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A Newcomer’s Nostalgia-Free Excitement for FFVII Remake

After 23 years, consider me officially converted.

With last week’s release of the Final Fantasy VII Remake demo, countless fans finally have a chance to relive the thrill of that first Mako reactor run. From returning to Midgar, recreating the game cover of Cloud gazing up at the hulking Shinra building, and hearing the impressively reimagined soundtrack, it’s easy to imagine how FFVII Remake is inspiring some major nostalgic feels. After all, who doesn’t immediately get transported back to memories of the original?

Well, me for one.

I didn’t play FFVII when it was first released. Until recently, I had never even played a Final Fantasy game. The legendary series has always been one of my biggest cultural blind spots, either due to age (in 1997 I was five), or from willful ignorance. JRPGs didn’t always click with me as a kid, and while I saw snippets of different FF titles while gaming with friends over the years, it never quite drew me in enough to play an entry on my own.

Even in 2018 when I finally booted up FFVII on PS4, determined to give a celebrated classic a shot, I still couldn’t connect. There were elements of the game that excited me (The summons! The soundtrack! Tifa!), but even after reaching a certain pivotal plot point (you know which one!), I found myself losing steam and ultimately I didn’t finish it. Maybe I was coming to it too late, maybe my expectations were too high. But ultimately I figured I was firmly on the “Final Fantasy isn’t for me” train.

Which is why after a hands-on experience last month, it’s blowing my mind that Final Fantasy VII Remake is easily one of my most anticipated games of 2020.

At first I thought it was just the updated graphics. That opening sequence drifting through a fully realized and lived-in Midgar is nothing short of stunning. Seeing Cloud leap into action at the beginning of the Mako reactor run genuinely sparked joy in me. He and the AVALANCHE crew are stylishly realized, and seeing them move through the world was a delight. Their personalities shine from small quips during battle to longer fleshed out cutscenes, and I was immediately endeared to the bombastic Barret and sweet, kindhearted Aerith. It helps that the world they are moving through gleams with eye-catching environments. From the glowing metal walkways of the Mako reactor, to the harried and burning alleyways of Midgar’s business district, I couldn’t stop pausing to take in my surroundings.

Square Enix’s updated vision of Midgar had successfully piqued my interest, but I felt like I was finally cutting my teeth as a true Final Fantasy convert during the fast-paced and kinetic combat. Y’all, I was having the time of my life during these battle sequences. Switching between Cloud and his party members is a fluid choreography that I was thrilled to learn, and once I had the hang of balancing my ATB charges and abilities, I felt like I could conquer Shinra and the world. That’s not to say I always had the hang of it — there were some particularly harrowing moments in a post-demo boss battle where I felt like I was using every ATB charge to force feed my party Potions. But once I found a steady rhythm, mastering the dance between characters and abilities felt natural. More than that, it felt exciting in a way that I had never felt about Final Fantasy before.

This increased tenfold when I used a Summon for the first time. Unlike in the original FFVII, Summons are something that require teamwork to get the most out of. With a Summoning materia equipped, one character can unleash a Summon, but then all party members can use their ATB charges to guide it in battle. It makes the Summon so much more than a cool animation and hefty attack. Instead they are an active and lasting part of the fight that encouraged more of that kinetic back and forth that I was thriving on. I might not have a lot of feelings tied to the original game, but I definitely felt something powerful when I unleashed Shiva during a fight.

It’s a feeling that stayed with me well after my playthrough, and again once I sat down to play the demo at home. It may have taken 23 years, but for the first time in my life, I think I’m fully on board the Final Fantasy train. I can’t wait to see where it takes me when Final Fantasy VII Remake comes to PS4 on April 10.

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12 Comments

  • Great write up Kristen! I too never played the original so I’m very much looking forward to experiencing it for the first time with this remake. I just hope it doesn’t take 10 more years to get the whole story.

  • You and me both Kristen, cannot wait for April 10. There’s no stoppin’ this train we’re on!

  • Honestly not surprised to hear someone who isn’t blinded by nostalgia to fall off the original. FF7 is not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly far from the best the series has to offer. The action based combat, which looks to be an evolution of 15’s, does have me intrigued, but not enough to make a day 1 purchase.

    • One has to be a true gamer to appreciate the grandeur and scope of Final Fantasy 7. The action-based combat as you mentioned- is simply not a good format for a true RPG.

  • I’m 35 (1984) and I never played more than 10 hours in any of the FF games when they first came out as a kid. I had them all VII, VIII, IX, X… But I never played any of them for more than 10 hours before I moved on to something else.

    The RPG’s of the day that I played and stuck with me are Legend of Legaia (PS1) and Legaia: Duel Saga (PS2).. Those are the two RPG’s I fondly remember playing as a kid when the rest of the kids were all about Final Fantasy. I played Legend of Dragoon and stuff like that also. I mean I know about the FF games and what they did for the gaming industry and why people love them so much. But I never got into them.

    I liked the demo and I think I’m finally going to play through FF VII in full on the remake.

  • I’m so excited to play this and I have never played FFV before! It’s almost like I have fake or l induced nostalgia lol. Yes, I know I have Lighting as my avatar but that’s because FFXIII was first FF I ever played. Please don’t shame me.

  • Like Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

    1. When you have people who are exceptional in their professions.

    2. Who are passionate (fans) about the project that they are working on.

    3. And they’re given the resources to bring a beloved intellect property to life in a new form.

    Greatness is inevitable… Such is the case for Final Fantasy 7: Remake.

    You may be new to FF7 but the I’m thinking 99.9% of the developers of FF7R are long time fans. Because there love of this world and it’s denizens shines through.

  • i can feel that the remake will be a giant masterpiece ♥️

  • I played FFVII and VIII back in my childhood and I watched FFVII Advent Children with joy (even though it’s not that good, but I was young and full of dreams).

    My heart pumped hard with these characters appearing in Kingdom Hearts.

    I devoured Crisis Core FFVII.

    Now I played the demo and I’m riding ON THE ROOF OF THE HYPE TRAIN.

  • Back in the ps1 days I was busy playing Legend of the Dragoon, so I missed out on FF7. Can’t wait to play to remake looks sick!

  • Just think of this as Final Fantasy 16. And have fun you’ll love it :)

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