Updated: Mar 2
Developed by SquareSoft and Published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the Playstation and released in 1997. After finding so much success with Nintendo consoles, SquareSoft makes a bold move to bring the next in the series to Sony's CD-ROM format console and it proves to be smash hit. This is Final Fantasy VII.
The planet is in turmoil. The Shinra Corp in their quest to power the world, is using up Mako resources produced by the planets Lifestream. AVALANCHE, an eco-terrorist organization led by Barret Wallace, have a plan to put an end to Shinra's evil ways. AVALANCHE, together with newly hired mercenary and former SOLDIER First Class Cloud Strife, set out to destroy the Mako reactors in Midgar City, Shinra's main headquarters. Like all plans, things don't go accordingly, our hero Cloud gets separated and comes to the rescue of Aerith Gainsborough, an unassuming flower merchant who might have an ancient past. When the crew reunite, this time with Clouds' childhood friend Tifa Lockheart (also a member of AVALANCHE) in tow, and decide to try their hand at facing Shinra once again it is then they discover an old war buddy of Cloud, Sephiroth, has some plans of his own. Sephiroth's sudden appearance makes everyone uneasy, especially Cloud, our heroes are forced to leave Midgar and set out into the bigger world to hunt down Sephiroth and the journey begins.
With it's fully 3-D character models on the overworld with pre-rendered backgrounds. Even larger more detailed character models during battles, the game is gorgeous to look at even today if you have the proper tools to do so. Criticized for not being much of a "fantasy" game, it's definitely skewed more as an industrial/steam-punk science fiction role-playing game. The soundtrack by Nobuo Uematsu is one of his best works to date and despite being on a new CD-ROM format, Uematsu stuck with his SNES roots and kept the soundtrack fairly simple.
Gone are the traditional roles and class system found in most Final Fantasy games. Enter, Materia, the condensed and processed form of Mako. Attaching these Materia to your weapons/armor will give you abilities such as magic, skills, more HP/MP, summons. With this system in place you can essentially make any character into any class you want. Special Materia are limited in the game but almost all can be mastered just be prepared for major grindage. It is quite possible to create the craziest unbeatable powerhouse team, as long as you're willing to work for it.
Whether you're like me and love Final Fantasy VII or you're just tired of hearing about it at this point, there's no denying the game was a game changer for Square and for Sony. The debate will never end on which is the better PlayStation FF, VII or VIII, or maybe you were that weird kid who thought IX was the best. Hey, I like em all, not judging! With the remake just around the corner (as of the time of writing this), it's amazing to see how far we've come from the original Final Fantasy to Final Fantasy VII to whatever is next.
Up until 1997 with the release of FFVII, I hadn't had much interest in RPGs. I tried my hand at a few on the SNES but couldn't really get into it. I was much too young to even understand them on my first console, the NES, so forget that. Final Fantasy VII really introduced me to a world I was missing out on and started a love affair with what is now become my favorite genre. I've since went back and played those SNES and NES RPGs and other systems when I could. Final Fantasy VII will always hold a special spot in my soul.