Top 100 Games of All-Time: #14

Final Fantasy VII

Release Date: September 7, 1997

Platform Played On: PS1

2018 Placement: #30 (+16)

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What It Is:

Final Fantasy VII was what some might consider the flagship title of the original Sony Playstation. Final Fantasy, a popular series that had carried the Super Nintendo, moving to Sony was a big deal at the time. Not only that, but the 3D graphics and FMV sequences of FF7 were mindblowing at the time. It really showed off what three CDs could do compared to a cartridge.

A basic JRPG at heart, Final Fantasy 7 puts you in the driver’s seat of Cloud, an ex-SOLDIER who joins up with Avalanche to commit some eco-terrorism in protest of capitalism. It’s a much more prescient story intro several decades later, but eventually the story’s scope moves from fighting the man to saving the world from a giant meteor. You collect materia to make your characters stronger and it ends up being one of the best systems Square Enix ever made in a Final Fantasy game for leveling. Also, there’s this guy named Sephiroth, but I don’t know if you’ve heard of him, he’s a pretty niche villain.

Why It’s Important To Me:

This was a formative game to my young mind: the first ever novel series I started creating at the ripe age of 12 basically had Cloud and Sephiroth expies as the protagonist and villain. Even when the story got confusing as all hell, the fact remained that this game left an impression on me. The jump to 3D graphics and Square’s use of FMVs just made my imagination run wild as I played through this game. I’d always wanted to be a novelist, ever since I won a writing competition at age 5, but Final Fantasy 7 was the first game to inspire me enough that a full-fledged novel series sprouted from my head like Athena after Zeus went on a bender.

And, of course, the music was yet another piece of the puzzle. From Still More Fighting to Crazy Motorcycle, from Jenova’s theme to the often replayed One-Winged Angel, every track of this game was rockin’. I even taught myself how to play the City of the Ancients’ theme on the piano by ear because that theme kept itself embedded in my brain long after I’d finished the game.

My Strongest Memory:

Up until Final Fantasy 7’s release, I was a Nintendo kid. In the Nintendo vs. Sega fan wars, I was always a die-hard defender of the Nintendo. Sega was the villain. When Sony came into the picture I held fast to my beliefs and hated them with as much vitriol as I could muster because Nintendo would always be the one true gaming company.

And then I went to my neighbor’s house and played through the introduction sequence in Sector 7 in Final Fantasy 7. I can still remember sitting cross-legged in the game room they had just finished adding to the house, completely enraptured by what I was playing. I didn’t want to leave or stop playing because it was so awesome.

I immediately started saving my money so I could buy a Playstation and play the entire thing. I was so enamored with the graphics, the music, the characters, everything. I’d gotten a paper route earlier just to buy a Nintendo 64, and now I was going to funnel that cash into a second system because I needed to play this RPG to its finish. And I’m glad I did because it was absolutely worth it.

Why It’s #14:

I undervalued Final Fantasy 7 the last time I made a list, but Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s release made me realize just how important FF7 is to me and my personal history with gaming. This game made me fall in love with gaming all over again and is probably what propelled me into gaming being a permanent hobby in my life. I think last time I tried to put it lower because it’s such an obvious choice and is well regarded by the entire community, so I wanted to be a little more unique and downplay my love of it. But it’s a classic for a reason. This is a damn good game.