Final Fantasy VII, a groundbreaking role-playing game (RPG) developed by Square (now Square Enix), was first released for the Sony PlayStation in 1997. The seventh installment in the popular Final Fantasy series, FFVII pushed the boundaries of video game storytelling, graphics, and gameplay, earning widespread acclaim from fans and critics alike.
Table Of Contents
Final Fantasy VII is set in the dystopian world of Gaia, where a powerful corporation called Shinra Electric Power Company controls most of the planet’s resources. Shinra extracts Mako energy, the planet’s life force, to power its cities and create advanced technology, but this comes at a severe cost to the environment.
The story begins when Cloud Strife, an ex-SOLDIER, now a mercenary, is hired by a rebel group called AVALANCHE, led by Barret Wallace. AVALANCHE’s goal is to stop Shinra from draining the planet’s life force, and Cloud is tasked with helping them infiltrate a Mako reactor in the city of Midgar to plant a bomb.
During their mission, Cloud encounters Aerith Gainsborough, a flower girl with a mysterious past. Aerith is targeted by Shinra due to her connection to the ancient Cetra race, believed to be capable of locating the “Promised Land,” a fabled area rich in Mako energy. As the story unfolds, Cloud and his allies discover that a much larger threat looms: Sephiroth, a legendary SOLDIER and Cloud’s former comrade, who has gone rogue.
Sephiroth’s ultimate goal is to use the Black Materia to summon a powerful spell called Meteor, which would cause catastrophic damage to the planet. Sephiroth believes that by doing so, he will absorb the planet’s life force and become a god-like being. The party’s mission evolves from stopping Shinra to preventing Sephiroth from destroying the world.
Throughout their journey, Cloud and his companions travel the world, uncovering the truth about their pasts, Shinra’s hidden agenda, and the nature of the planet itself. Cloud’s personal journey is marked by his struggle to come to terms with his identity, as he learns that his memories have been manipulated and discovers the truth about his connection to Sephiroth and Zack Fair, another former SOLDIER.
The party eventually confronts Sephiroth at the planet’s core, where they manage to defeat him and prevent the Meteor’s destruction. However, Aerith, who was killed by Sephiroth earlier in the story, plays a pivotal role in saving the planet by summoning Holy, a countermeasure to Meteor, and the Lifestream, the planet’s life force, to heal the world.
Final Fantasy VII explores themes such as environmentalism, the search for identity, the corruption of power, and the importance of friendship. The game’s rich narrative, memorable characters, and immersive world-building have made it a classic and an essential entry in the Final Fantasy series.
Cloud Strife is the protagonist of Final Fantasy VII and one of the most recognizable characters in the gaming world. With his spiky blonde hair and enormous Buster Sword, Cloud has become an enduring symbol of the Final Fantasy series. He’s a skilled swordsman, former member of the elite SOLDIER unit, and eventually becomes a mercenary who joins the eco-terrorist group AVALANCHE in their fight against the Shinra Corporation.
Cloud’s story is marked by a complex and mysterious past. He hails from the small town of Nibelheim, where he grew up alongside Tifa Lockhart. Driven by a desire to prove himself and become a hero, Cloud leaves Nibelheim to join SOLDIER, an elite fighting force employed by the Shinra Corporation. However, a series of traumatic events involving Sephiroth, the main antagonist of the game, lead to Cloud’s departure from SOLDIER and subsequent memory loss.
Throughout Final Fantasy VII, Cloud’s journey involves rediscovering his past and coming to terms with the truth about his identity. He forms strong bonds with his fellow AVALANCHE members, particularly Tifa and Aerith Gainsborough, and grows into a capable leader. The relationships he builds along the way are central to his character development and serve as a driving force in his pursuit of justice.
In battle, Cloud is a versatile fighter, proficient in both physical attacks and magic. His limit breaks are powerful, ranging from the iconic “Braver” to the devastating “Omnislash.” Cloud’s ability to wield powerful Materia, along with his impressive swordsmanship, make him a formidable opponent on the battlefield.
Cloud’s personal journey of self-discovery, his commitment to fighting for a greater cause, and his iconic design have made him a beloved character among fans and an enduring figure in the world of gaming.
Tifa Lockhart is a beloved character in Final Fantasy VII, known for her kind-hearted nature, unwavering loyalty, and formidable martial arts skills. Tifa is the owner of the 7th Heaven bar in the Midgar slums, which serves as a secret base for the eco-terrorist group AVALANCHE, led by Barret Wallace. She is a core member of the group, fighting to protect the planet from the destructive actions of the Shinra Corporation and, later, from the threat posed by Sephiroth.
Tifa has a deep connection to Cloud Strife, the game’s protagonist, as they share a childhood friendship from their hometown of Nibelheim. Throughout the game, Tifa serves as Cloud’s emotional support, helping him to overcome his past traumas and uncover the truth about his identity. The bond between Tifa and Cloud forms an important part of the game’s narrative and is central to their character development.
In battle, Tifa excels in close-range combat, utilizing her martial arts expertise to deal significant physical damage to enemies. Her limit breaks consist of a series of powerful melee attacks that can be chained together through a slot machine-like mechanic. As the player lands successful hits, the damage inflicted on enemies increases. Tifa’s final limit break, “Final Heaven,” is a devastating single-target attack that showcases her exceptional martial prowess.
Tifa’s character arc revolves around her unwavering determination to protect her friends and home, her compassion for others, and her role as a pillar of strength for her allies. Her courage and kindness have endeared her to fans worldwide, making her one of the most iconic characters in the Final Fantasy series.
Barret Wallace is a prominent character in Final Fantasy VII, recognized for his imposing physique, strong-willed personality, and passionate commitment to fighting against the oppressive Shinra Corporation. As the leader of the eco-terrorist group AVALANCHE, Barret’s initial goal is to prevent Shinra from further exploiting the planet’s resources and harming the environment by draining Mako energy. Throughout the story, his motivations evolve, and he becomes a key figure in the broader battle against Sephiroth and his nefarious plans.
Barret’s tough exterior and gruff demeanor mask a caring and protective nature, especially towards his adoptive daughter, Marlene. As the game progresses, he develops a strong bond with the other characters, particularly Cloud Strife, the protagonist, with whom he shares a complicated but ultimately loyal friendship.
In combat, Barret is a powerhouse, boasting high strength and HP stats. He wields a gun-arm prosthetic as his primary weapon, which he obtained after losing his right arm in an accident. This unique weapon allows him to deal ranged physical damage, making him a versatile fighter who can adapt to various combat situations. Barret’s limit breaks mainly focus on dealing damage to single or multiple enemies, with his final limit break, “Catastrophe,” unleashing a powerful blast that damages all opponents on the battlefield.
Barret’s character arc centers around his struggle to come to terms with the consequences of his actions, as well as his pursuit of redemption and a better world for Marlene and future generations. He remains a fan-favorite character, embodying the spirit of resistance and the fight for justice in the world of Final Fantasy VII.
Aerith Gainsborough is a central character in Final Fantasy VII, known for her gentle nature, mysterious past, and tragic fate. She is the last surviving member of the ancient Cetra race, also referred to as the Ancients, a group of people with a strong connection to the planet and its spiritual energy, the Lifestream. Aerith’s heritage grants her unique abilities, making her a prime target for the nefarious Shinra Corporation, who seek to exploit her powers.
The player first encounters Aerith in the slums of Midgar, where she works as a flower seller. As the story unfolds, she joins the protagonist, Cloud Strife, and his allies in their fight against Shinra and Sephiroth. Aerith’s caring and empathetic personality endears her to the other characters and the player, making her a beloved figure in the game.
In combat, Aerith excels as a magic user, wielding a staff as her primary weapon. Her high magic stats and ability to wield powerful healing and support spells make her a valuable addition to the party. Aerith’s limit breaks focus on healing and support, with her final limit break, “Great Gospel,” fully restoring the party’s HP and making them temporarily invulnerable.
Aerith’s story takes a tragic turn as she becomes a martyr in the fight against Sephiroth. Her death scene is one of the most memorable and emotional moments in gaming history, leaving a lasting impact on both the characters and the player. Despite her untimely end, Aerith’s legacy continues to influence the world of Final Fantasy VII, as her spirit remains intertwined with the Lifestream, guiding and protecting her friends from beyond the grave.
Red XIII (Nanaki)
Red XIII, also known as Nanaki, is a unique and intelligent creature in Final Fantasy VII, originating from the secluded village of Cosmo Canyon. As a member of a race of feline-like beings with the ability to speak, Red XIII boasts impressive wisdom and longevity, living for hundreds of years. While he appears fearsome with his fiery red fur and distinctive tribal markings, Red XIII is gentle, loyal, and compassionate, valuing his friendships and seeking to protect the planet from harm.
The player encounters Red XIII as a captive of the Shinra Corporation, who conduct experiments on him due to his unique genetic makeup. When the party frees him, he becomes a valuable ally in their quest to take down Sephiroth and the Shinra Corporation.
Red XIII fights using his agility, sharp claws, and fangs, along with a variety of magical abilities. In battle, he excels in both physical and magical combat, making him a versatile and powerful ally. His limit breaks mainly focus on dealing damage and inflicting status ailments on enemies, with his final limit break, “Cosmo Memory,” causing massive non-elemental damage to all opponents.
Throughout the game, Red XIII’s character arc explores themes of family, identity, and self-discovery. He learns about his true heritage and the legacy left by his father, Seto, ultimately embracing his role as the protector of Cosmo Canyon. Red XIII’s unique appearance, personality, and story have made him a beloved character among fans of Final Fantasy VII.
Yuffie Kisaragi is a spirited and energetic young ninja from the small, hidden village of Wutai in Final Fantasy VII. She is a skilled thief and an expert in the art of ninjutsu, wielding a large shuriken as her primary weapon. Yuffie is known for her mischievous and sometimes selfish nature, but she is also a fiercely loyal ally to her friends and deeply devoted to her village.
Yuffie is an optional character in the game and can be encountered and recruited by the player in various forests throughout the world. Her recruitment is unique, as she will challenge the party to a battle, and if defeated, will pretend to join the group only to steal their materia. The player must then track her down and complete a series of events in Wutai to gain her trust and convince her to join their cause permanently.
In battle, Yuffie is a versatile and agile fighter, able to perform both physical and magical attacks effectively. Her limit breaks revolve around her ninja skills and often involve multiple hits, allowing her to deal significant damage to enemies. Her final limit break, “All Creation,” unleashes a powerful, non-elemental attack on all opponents.
Yuffie’s character arc involves her growth from a self-centered thief to a mature and dedicated ally. Throughout the game, she learns the value of teamwork and the importance of protecting the planet from the threat posed by Sephiroth and Shinra. Yuffie’s unique personality, combat abilities, and storyline have made her a popular character among fans of Final Fantasy VII.
Vincent Valentine is a mysterious and enigmatic character in Final Fantasy VII, known for his tragic past, brooding nature, and unique abilities. He was once a member of the Shinra Electric Power Company’s elite special forces unit, the Turks, but was betrayed and subjected to a series of gruesome experiments by the mad scientist, Professor Hojo. These experiments left Vincent with the power to transform into various monstrous forms, but also left him with an extended lifespan and an overwhelming sense of guilt.
Vincent wields a gun as his primary weapon, which he uses with precision and efficiency in battle. His limit breaks involve transformations into powerful beasts, each with its own unique set of abilities that can devastate enemies. Vincent’s final limit break, “Chaos,” sees him transforming into a demonic winged creature with immense power.
Cloud and his party discover Vincent in the depths of the Shinra Mansion in the town of Nibelheim. Once awakened, Vincent decides to join the group in their quest to stop Sephiroth and save the planet, seeing it as an opportunity to atone for his past sins. Throughout the story, Vincent gradually unveils the truth about his past, including his relationship with Lucrecia Crescent, a scientist who played a role in Sephiroth’s creation and whom Vincent had loved.
Vincent Valentine’s dark, enigmatic nature, his tragic backstory, and his powerful abilities have made him a fan favorite among Final Fantasy VII players. In recognition of his popularity, Vincent was given a starring role in the spin-off game “Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII,” which further explores his past and the consequences of his actions.
Cid Highwind is a prominent character in Final Fantasy VII, known for his gruff exterior, passionate demeanor, and love for flying. He is an expert pilot and skilled engineer, having designed and built several airships throughout his life. Cid’s dream is to be the first man in space, but his ambitions are thwarted by a failed launch attempt that he blames on his assistant, Shera.
Cid’s weapon of choice is a spear, and he excels in both physical attacks and jumping abilities in combat. His limit breaks are predominantly powerful spear-based attacks that can deal significant damage to enemies. Cid’s most powerful limit break, “Highwind,” summons his airship to unleash a barrage of missiles upon the enemies, dealing massive damage.
Cid initially encounters Cloud and his party in Rocket Town, where he reluctantly joins them in their quest to save the planet from Sephiroth. Over time, Cid’s character evolves, as he learns to appreciate his companions and let go of his bitterness towards Shera. Cid’s personal growth culminates in his eventual acceptance of Shera’s support and love.
Cid Highwind’s rugged charm, dedication to his dreams, and evolving personal journey make him a beloved character among Final Fantasy VII fans.
Cait Sith is a unique character in Final Fantasy VII, a robotic cat who rides atop a large, animated stuffed moogle. This peculiar character is controlled remotely by Reeve Tuesti, an executive from the Shinra Electric Power Company. Cait Sith initially infiltrates the party as a spy for Shinra, but eventually develops a genuine bond with the group and joins them in their fight against Sephiroth and Shinra.
Cait Sith is a versatile character in battle, utilizing a megaphone to command the moogle and cast various spells. The moogle is also capable of performing powerful physical attacks. Cait Sith’s limit breaks revolve around the use of a slot machine mechanic, which can result in various outcomes ranging from powerful attacks on enemies to helpful effects for the party. However, the slot machine can also have negative consequences if the player is unlucky.
Cait Sith’s quirky appearance and personality, as well as his unique combat abilities, make him a memorable character in the Final Fantasy VII universe.
Zack Fair is the main protagonist of Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- / Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion and a recurring character in the Final Fantasy VII series of games. First introduced through flashbacks in Final Fantasy VII, Zack also appears as a supporting character in Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII-, Last Order -Final Fantasy VII-, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, and Final Fantasy VII Remake.
Born in the countryside of Gongaga, Zack was a member of SOLDIER First Class and the protege of Angeal Hewley. One of the strongest warriors in the division next to Sephiroth, Zack wields the powerful Buster Sword, which he later passes on to his best friend, Cloud Strife. Always optimistic and dedicated to his own morals, he finds his perfect match in his girlfriend Aerith Gainsborough during the events of Crisis Core.
Although only seen during flashbacks in the original title, Zack’s story is intrinsically linked to Cloud’s, making him a hugely important character in the lore of Final Fantasy VII.
Final Fantasy VII is a role-playing game (RPG) that features a mix of exploration, character progression, and turn-based combat. The gameplay consists of three primary components: world map navigation, character interaction and story progression, and combat.
- World Map Navigation: The player navigates the world of Gaia via an expansive world map, which allows them to visit various towns, cities, dungeons, and other locations. As the story unfolds, new areas become accessible, and the player can acquire different modes of transportation, such as the Highwind airship and the Tiny Bronco, to traverse the world more efficiently.
- Character Interaction and Story Progression: In towns and cities, players interact with non-playable characters (NPCs) to gather information, accept side quests, and purchase items, equipment, and materia. The game’s story is primarily advanced through dialogue and scripted events, which often occur in key locations. Some events may result in choices that can affect the story or character relationships. Throughout the game, the player can also discover hidden content, such as optional characters, side quests, and minigames, which can enrich the overall experience.
- Combat: Final Fantasy VII features a turn-based combat system known as the Active Time Battle (ATB) system. Battles are triggered randomly while traveling through hostile areas or by engaging specific enemies during story events. During combat, the player controls a party of up to three characters from their roster.
Each character has an ATB gauge that fills up over time, and when the gauge is full, the character can perform an action, such as attacking, using items, casting magic, or using a unique character ability called a Limit Break. The player can also choose to wait or use the “Defend” command to strategically delay their turn.
Characters can equip weapons, armor, and accessories, which affect their stats and abilities. The game’s unique materia system allows players to customize their characters’ abilities by equipping different types of materia—magical orbs that grant spells, summons, or stat boosts. Materia can be combined and leveled up to create more powerful effects or unlock new abilities.
Character progression is achieved through gaining experience points (EXP) from defeating enemies, which leads to leveling up and increased stats. Additionally, characters can acquire new Limit Breaks by using them repeatedly or meeting specific conditions.
The game also features numerous boss battles that challenge the player’s strategy and party setup. These encounters often require a combination of elemental weaknesses, status effects, and other tactics to overcome.
Final Fantasy VII’s gameplay offers a deep, engaging experience that balances exploration, character customization, and strategic combat, which has helped make it one of the most beloved RPGs of all time.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Final Fantasy VII Remake is a reimagining of the original Final Fantasy VII, developed and published by Square Enix. Released on April 10, 2020, for the PlayStation 4, the Remake features updated graphics, a redesigned real-time combat system, an expanded story, and fully-voiced characters. It is planned to be released in multiple parts, with the first part covering the events of Midgar from the original game.
Final Fantasy VII Remake is built using Unreal Engine 4 and features highly detailed character models, environments, and animations. The game’s visual presentation is a significant upgrade from the original, with realistic lighting, textures, and particle effects that bring the world of Midgar to life.
The combat system in Final Fantasy VII Remake is a hybrid of real-time action and strategic command-based elements. Players control one character at a time, while the other party members are controlled by AI. The player can switch between characters at any time to issue commands or use abilities. The Active Time Battle (ATB) system from the original game is reimagined, with characters building ATB charges through standard attacks. Once a character has enough ATB charges, players can issue commands for special abilities, spells, or items.
The story in Final Fantasy VII Remake has been expanded to provide a more in-depth exploration of the world and characters. This includes additional storylines, character interactions, and side quests. The game also features new characters and locations that were not present in the original game, further enriching the game world and narrative.
Final Fantasy VII Remake features full voice acting for all major characters, including Cloud, Tifa, Aerith, and Barret. The voice acting adds an extra layer of immersion and emotional depth to the game’s story and character interactions.
The music in Final Fantasy VII Remake is a combination of newly arranged tracks from the original game and new compositions. Original composer Nobuo Uematsu was involved in the creation of the game’s soundtrack, ensuring that the music remains true to the spirit of the original while also adding a fresh, modern touch.
Final Fantasy VII’s development began in 1994, under the direction of Yoshinori Kitase and produced by Hironobu Sakaguchi, who had both worked on previous entries in the Final Fantasy series. The game was developed by Square (now Square Enix) and was initially planned for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). However, due to the limitations of the hardware and the desire to create a more cinematic experience, the development shifted to the then-upcoming Sony PlayStation.
During the early stages of development, several key team members were involved, including character designer Tetsuya Nomura, who replaced long-time series artist Yoshitaka Amano, and composer Nobuo Uematsu, who continued his work on the series’ iconic musical scores.
The development of Final Fantasy VII was a significant undertaking, with a budget of over $40 million and a team of over 100 people. The game utilized cutting-edge technology for its time, including pre-rendered backgrounds, full motion video (FMV) cutscenes, and 3D character models. This marked a departure from the sprite-based 2D graphics of previous games in the series.
To create a more immersive experience, the team developed a complex narrative, exploring themes of environmentalism, personal identity, and the consequences of unchecked corporate power. The story was written by Kazushige Nojima, with contributions from Kitase, Nomura, and others.
Final Fantasy VII also introduced the materia system, which allowed for more customization and strategic depth in combat. This system was designed by Hiroshi Harata and was inspired by the magicite system from Final Fantasy VI.
The game’s development took nearly three years, with its release in Japan on January 31, 1997, followed by North American and European releases later that year. Final Fantasy VII was met with critical acclaim and commercial success, selling over 14.1 million copies worldwide as of 2021. It is often credited with popularizing the RPG genre in the West and solidifying the PlayStation as a major gaming platform.
The impact of Final Fantasy VII led to various spin-offs, prequels, and sequels, such as Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII, and the film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. A full high-definition remake, titled Final Fantasy VII Remake, was released in 2020, with the first part covering the events in Midgar.
Music and Sound Design
The music and sound design of Final Fantasy VII played a significant role in shaping the game’s atmosphere and emotional impact. The game’s score was composed by Nobuo Uematsu, who had been the primary composer for the Final Fantasy series since its inception. For Final Fantasy VII, Uematsu composed over 80 tracks, blending various musical genres such as orchestral, rock, electronic, and ambient music.
Uematsu’s approach to the game’s score was to create memorable melodies and evoke specific emotions in relation to the game’s story and characters. Some of the most iconic tracks from the game include “Opening – Bombing Mission,” “Aerith’s Theme,” “One-Winged Angel,” and “Tifa’s Theme.” Each of these tracks serves to underscore key moments in the game or reflect the personalities of the characters they are associated with.
“One-Winged Angel,” the theme of the game’s primary antagonist Sephiroth, is particularly noteworthy for its use of choir and orchestral elements, creating an ominous and menacing atmosphere. “Aerith’s Theme,” on the other hand, is a gentle and poignant melody that serves as a leitmotif for the character Aerith Gainsborough and is used to great emotional effect throughout the game.
The sound design of Final Fantasy VII was also an important aspect of the game’s overall presentation. The game featured a wide array of sound effects for various actions, such as the swinging of weapons, the casting of spells, and the footsteps of characters. These sound effects helped to create a more immersive experience for players, especially when combined with the game’s music and visuals.
In addition to the game’s original score and sound effects, Final Fantasy VII also featured voice acting in its full motion video (FMV) cutscenes, although the quality of the voice acting was somewhat limited by the technology available at the time.
Over the years, the music of Final Fantasy VII has been celebrated and performed by various orchestras and ensembles around the world. Albums, such as “Final Fantasy VII: Reunion Tracks” and “Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy,” have also been released, featuring new arrangements and performances of the game’s iconic music.
Graphics and Visual Design
Final Fantasy VII’s graphics and visual design played a crucial role in the game’s success, as they were groundbreaking for their time and contributed to the immersive experience that captivated millions of players worldwide.
One of the key elements that set Final Fantasy VII apart from its predecessors and contemporaries was the use of pre-rendered backgrounds. These highly detailed, 2D images were created by artists who meticulously designed each scene to evoke a sense of depth and atmosphere. The characters and objects would then be placed within these backgrounds as 3D polygonal models, providing a unique blend of 2D and 3D elements that added visual richness to the game world.
The 3D character models in Final Fantasy VII were a significant departure from the 2D sprites used in previous games in the series. While the models were relatively simple by today’s standards, featuring blocky shapes and limited textures, they were a significant step forward for the time. The game used different character models for the world map, battle sequences, and in-game cutscenes, with the latter being the most detailed.
Full-motion video cutscenes
Final Fantasy VII also made extensive use of full-motion video (FMV) cutscenes, which were pre-rendered, high-quality videos that seamlessly integrated into the gameplay. These FMVs showcased impressive visual effects and animation that pushed the boundaries of what was possible on the PlayStation hardware. The FMVs allowed for more cinematic storytelling, enhancing the game’s narrative and overall presentation.
In addition to the character models and backgrounds, Final Fantasy VII utilized various visual effects to create a more immersive and dynamic world. These effects included particle systems, lighting, and transparency effects that added depth and realism to the game. The game’s summons and magic spells, in particular, featured elaborate animations and visual effects that were both awe-inspiring and satisfying to watch.
Under the guidance of art director Yusuke Naora and character designer Tetsuya Nomura, Final Fantasy VII’s visual design aimed to create a unique, memorable world that combined elements of science fiction and fantasy. The game’s environments ranged from the sprawling, industrial city of Midgar to the lush, natural landscapes found in other parts of the world. The characters were designed to be distinctive and memorable, with unique outfits and color palettes that set them apart from one another.
Localization and Translation
The localization and translation of Final Fantasy VII played a vital role in bringing the game to a global audience and ensuring that its intricate narrative and richly detailed world were accessible to players of different languages and cultures. This process involved not only translating the game’s text but also adapting its cultural references, humor, and other elements to resonate with the target audience.
Final Fantasy VII’s original script was written in Japanese, and it needed to be translated into multiple languages, including English, for its worldwide release. The translation was led by Michael Baskett, who worked closely with a team of translators and editors to ensure that the game’s dialogue, item descriptions, and other textual elements were accurately and faithfully rendered in the target languages. The translators faced the challenge of working with limited character space for in-game text, which sometimes required creative solutions to convey the intended meaning without losing the essence of the original script.
Localization goes beyond mere translation; it also involves adapting certain elements of the game to better suit the target audience’s cultural sensibilities. This might include altering character names, adjusting humor or idioms, and modifying visual elements like symbols or gestures. In Final Fantasy VII’s case, some character names and terms were altered for the English release, such as Aerith Gainsborough’s original Japanese name, “Aeris,” being changed to “Aerith” to better represent the intended pronunciation.
Although the original Final Fantasy VII did not feature voice acting, its subsequent adaptations and remakes, such as Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and Final Fantasy VII Remake, did include fully voiced dialogue. In these cases, localization teams had to not only translate the script but also cast voice actors who could convincingly portray the characters in the target language. This required careful consideration of the actors’ vocal qualities, their ability to convey the characters’ emotions, and their overall suitability for the roles.
Quality Assurance and Testing
Once the translation and adaptation process was complete, the localized version of the game had to be thoroughly tested to ensure that the text fit within the game’s user interface, that there were no errors or inconsistencies, and that the overall experience was seamless for players. This involved playtesting the game, checking for issues like text overflow, and working closely with the development team to address any problems that arose.
Challenges and Controversies
The localization and translation of Final Fantasy VII were not without their challenges and controversies. Some fans of the series have criticized certain aspects of the game’s English translation, pointing out awkward or inaccurate translations, and inconsistencies in character names and terminology. These issues, however, should be considered in the context of the time and resources available to localization teams in the late 1990s, as well as the technical limitations of the hardware.
Reception and Sales
Final Fantasy VII received widespread critical acclaim and commercial success, making it one of the most influential and best-selling video games of all time. The game has sold over 14.1 million copies worldwide as of 2021, and it played a significant role in popularizing the Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) genre outside of Japan.
Final Fantasy VII was praised for its engaging story, memorable characters, stunning graphics (for its time), and the innovative use of full-motion video cutscenes. Critics were particularly impressed with the game’s cinematic presentation, which was groundbreaking at the time, and its deep and intricate narrative.
The game’s music, composed by Nobuo Uematsu, also garnered significant praise, with tracks like “One-Winged Angel” and “Aerith’s Theme” becoming iconic pieces within the video game music landscape. Final Fantasy VII’s soundtrack contributed to the overall emotional impact of the game and helped to establish Uematsu as one of the most celebrated composers in the industry.
Final Fantasy VII received numerous awards and accolades, including several “Game of the Year” awards from various gaming publications. It has consistently been ranked among the top video games of all time in various polls and lists, and its impact on the gaming industry is still felt today.
Final Fantasy VII experienced strong sales from the outset, selling over two million copies within three days of its Japanese release. The game’s success continued internationally, with over 500,000 pre-orders in North America alone, making it one of the most highly anticipated games of its time.
The game’s popularity led to a surge in PlayStation console sales, as many gamers purchased the system specifically to play Final Fantasy VII. Its success also prompted a significant increase in demand for JRPGs in Western markets, paving the way for future titles in the genre.
Over the years, Final Fantasy VII has seen various re-releases and ports to different platforms, including PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and mobile devices, which have further contributed to its impressive sales figures.
In summary, Final Fantasy VII received an overwhelmingly positive reception from critics and gamers alike, and its sales figures reflect its lasting impact on the gaming industry. The game’s success helped to popularize the JRPG genre outside of Japan and cemented Final Fantasy as one of the most beloved video game franchises in history.
Spin-offs and Sequels
Final Fantasy VII has spawned several spin-offs and sequels, expanding the game’s universe and further developing its characters, story, and setting. These additional titles include films, mobile games, and other console titles, each contributing to the rich tapestry of the Final Fantasy VII world. Some of the most notable spin-offs and sequels include:
Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII (2004): This mobile action RPG serves as a prequel to the original game, focusing on the events leading up to Final Fantasy VII. Players take control of various members of the elite Shinra paramilitary group, the Turks, as they carry out missions and uncover a conspiracy against the Shinra Electric Power Company. The game was released exclusively in Japan for mobile devices.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (2005): Advent Children is a computer-animated film that takes place two years after the events of Final Fantasy VII. The story follows Cloud Strife and his friends as they battle against a trio of mysterious villains who seek to resurrect Sephiroth, the game’s primary antagonist. The film was well-received for its stunning visuals and action sequences, and it was released in various formats, including a “Complete” edition with additional scenes and improved visuals.
Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII (2006): This third-person shooter action RPG focuses on the character Vincent Valentine, a former Turk and optional party member in Final Fantasy VII. Set three years after the original game, Dirge of Cerberus follows Vincent as he uncovers a plot by a mysterious organization called Deepground to unleash an ancient weapon known as Omega. The game was released for the PlayStation 2 and received mixed reviews for its gameplay and story.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (2007): Crisis Core is an action RPG for the PlayStation Portable that serves as a prequel to Final Fantasy VII. The game follows Zack Fair, a SOLDIER 2nd Class, as he uncovers the truth behind the events that led to the original game. Crisis Core features real-time combat, a unique leveling system called the Digital Mind Wave (DMW), and additional story elements that tie into the overall narrative of Final Fantasy VII.
Final Fantasy VII: The Last Order (2007): This short animated film serves as a companion piece to Crisis Core, focusing on the events that occurred in Nibelheim prior to the original game. The Last Order explores the perspectives of various characters, including Zack, Cloud, Tifa, and Sephiroth, as they confront the events that would change their lives forever.
Final Fantasy VII: On the Way to a Smile (2009): This series of short stories, later adapted into an episodic anime called “Final Fantasy VII: On the Way to a Smile – Episode: Denzel,” explores the lives of various characters between the events of Final Fantasy VII and Advent Children. The stories provide additional insight into the characters’ personal journeys and their struggles to find hope and happiness in a post-Meteor world.
Final Fantasy VII: Snowboarding (2005): This mobile game was a spin-off that focused on snowboarding, a mini-game from the original Final Fantasy VII. Players could control Cloud Strife as he snowboarded down various courses while collecting items and performing tricks. The game was released for mobile devices in North America and Europe.
These spin-offs and sequels have expanded the world of Final Fantasy VII, providing fans with new stories, gameplay experiences, and insights into the characters and events of this beloved universe. While not all of these titles have received critical acclaim, they remain an important part of the ongoing legacy of Final Fantasy VII.
Final Fantasy VII has left a lasting legacy in the gaming industry and popular culture, setting a new standard for storytelling, gameplay, and presentation in video games. Its impact can be seen in various aspects of gaming, and it has influenced a generation of game developers and fans. The following are some key elements that contribute to the legacy of Final Fantasy VII:
Pioneering Storytelling: Final Fantasy VII pushed the boundaries of storytelling in video games with its mature themes, complex narrative, and character development. Its emotional depth and engaging plot set a new benchmark for RPGs and video games as a whole, proving that games could be a powerful medium for storytelling.
Iconic Characters: The game’s memorable cast of characters, including Cloud Strife, Sephiroth, Tifa Lockhart, and Aerith Gainsborough, have become iconic figures in the gaming world. Their distinct personalities, intricate backstories, and development throughout the game have resonated with players, making them some of the most beloved characters in gaming history.
Groundbreaking Visuals: Final Fantasy VII’s graphics and visual design were revolutionary for their time. The use of pre-rendered backgrounds and full-motion video (FMV) sequences, combined with 3D character models, created a cinematic experience that was unprecedented in console gaming. The game’s visual style has had a lasting impact on the industry, inspiring other developers to pursue more immersive and visually impressive experiences.
Innovative Gameplay: The game introduced the Materia system, a unique approach to character customization and magic usage, allowing players to experiment with various combinations to create unique strategies. This system, along with the Active Time Battle (ATB) mechanic and engaging minigames, set a new standard for gameplay in RPGs.
Memorable Music: Nobuo Uematsu’s soundtrack for Final Fantasy VII has become one of the most recognized and celebrated video game scores. Tracks such as “One-Winged Angel,” “Aerith’s Theme,” and “Main Theme of Final Fantasy VII” have become iconic, with the game’s music continuing to be celebrated through concerts, albums, and remixes.
Expanding the Franchise: Final Fantasy VII’s success led to the creation of an expanded universe, including prequels, sequels, and spin-off titles. Games like Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII, and the film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children have expanded upon the game’s story and characters, further cementing its impact on gaming culture.
Impact on the Industry: The game’s success, particularly in Western markets, helped to popularize Japanese RPGs outside of Japan. It played a significant role in establishing the PlayStation as a dominant gaming platform and solidified Square (now Square Enix) as a leading developer of RPGs. The game’s influence can be seen in countless RPGs and action-adventure games that have followed, as developers continue to build upon the foundations laid by Final Fantasy VII.
Remake and Revival: The enduring popularity and demand for Final Fantasy VII led to the development of Final Fantasy VII Remake, a modern reimagining of the classic game. The Remake’s success has introduced a new generation of gamers to the story, characters, and world of Final Fantasy VII, further solidifying its legacy.
Final Fantasy VII’s legacy is a testament to the game’s groundbreaking storytelling, memorable characters, innovative gameplay, and lasting impact on the gaming industry. Its influence continues to be felt in modern games, and it remains a beloved and iconic title in the history of video games.
Fan Community and Influence
The fan community and influence of Final Fantasy VII have been significant, making it one of the most beloved and enduring titles in the gaming industry. Its impact can be seen in various aspects of gaming culture and beyond, as fans continue to express their love and appreciation for the game through diverse means. Some of the ways in which the fan community and influence of Final Fantasy VII have manifested include:
Fan Art and Cosplay
Final Fantasy VII has inspired countless pieces of fan art, where talented artists have created their renditions of the game’s iconic characters, scenes, and locations. Additionally, cosplayers have crafted detailed costumes, portraying their favorite characters at conventions and gatherings around the world. This level of creative expression has helped to solidify the game’s enduring influence and maintain its presence in popular culture.
Fanfiction and Fan Films
The rich narrative and compelling characters of Final Fantasy VII have led to a flourishing fanfiction community, where writers create their stories set within the game’s universe. These stories often explore alternative scenarios, character relationships, and expand on the game’s lore. Fan films, both animated and live-action, have also been created, further demonstrating the passion and creativity of the game’s fanbase.
Fan Websites, Forums, and Social Media
Over the years, numerous fan websites and forums have been established, dedicated to discussing and sharing information about Final Fantasy VII. These online communities have allowed fans to connect, debate, and share their experiences with the game. Social media has further amplified this sense of community, enabling fans to interact with one another and engage with official accounts for updates, news, and behind-the-scenes content.
Fan-Made Mods and Remakes
The dedicated fan community has developed various mods for the PC version of Final Fantasy VII, enhancing and updating the game in ways that cater to their preferences. These mods can include graphical improvements, bug fixes, gameplay tweaks, and even complete overhauls of the game’s systems. Fans have also attempted to create unofficial remakes of the game, often with updated graphics and features, though many of these projects have been discontinued due to legal concerns.
Influence on Game Design and Industry
Final Fantasy VII’s groundbreaking storytelling, gameplay mechanics, and cinematic presentation have had a lasting impact on the game industry. Many developers have cited the game as an influence on their work, and its success has contributed to the popularity of Japanese RPGs in the West. The game’s iconic characters, particularly Cloud Strife and Sephiroth, have become staples of the gaming world and have appeared in various other media, including the crossover fighting game series Super Smash Bros.
Music Covers and Remixes
The game’s memorable soundtrack, composed by Nobuo Uematsu, has inspired countless covers and remixes by both professional musicians and amateur artists. The game’s music has been reinterpreted in various styles and genres, from orchestral arrangements to electronic remixes, showcasing the enduring appeal and adaptability of Uematsu’s compositions.