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 realised, 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 10th April.

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  • “Welcome to Final Fantasy VII – an epic adventure where sorcery and science collide, where friendships are lost and won and where one man can make a difference that lasts forever!”

    Reading that I knew I was in for an adventure and it definitely left an impression!

    This game will bring back many fond memories and I think newcomers will have an interest in playing the original after.

    I cannot wait to see omnislash!

  • yeah i thought the demo showed a huge improvement on the original that i hated on my PS1 in the 90s but not enough that I’m gonna pay £60 for it. Or even half that in later sales. Still don’t think it’s for me at all. But you folk enjoy. :)

  • Does this 75+ preorder materia game really need 38128348384 articles every 6 seconds?

    • Oh well, whatever number it is, it still doesn’t beat the amount of times you post an unfunny comment complete with stupid tongue emoji.

      Wow, you even managed to do more than one in this article, it must be our birthday.

    • Aww, someones grumpy.

  • Did you leave original FF VII when Aerith drops the white materia in the altar from forgotten city? Why? Did it make you sad? Without purpose? I’m curious, regards

  • lol BTW that’s another point to my free spoiler comment

  • I fell in love with Final Fantasy VII the first time I saw it. My friend showed me and let me borrow his because he had alrdy beat it and Final Fantasy VIII was just released in America and he bought it. By time I finished FFVII he was finishing up FFVIII. I gave him his back and went bought both 7 and 8. I finished 8 and learned that 9 was about to release. I got it right when it came out and I have never not bought the new ones that came out after that. I still have my all of them from 7 to 15 but I actually own 2 copies of 7. One is the original black label misprint and one is a greatest hits. I don’t even open my black label misprint version.

  • I played the FFVII Remake Demo and had the biggest smile on my face the entire time. I’ve had a Deluxe version reserved ever since they first started taking them.

  • The demo was fun, but there’s something missing. It doesn’t have any of the charm or character of the original.

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