Playthrough: Celebration of Final Fantasy VII

Box Art

Welcome to The Starlight Megaphone‘s playthrough of Final Fantasy VII, releaseed by SquareSoft (now Square Enix), exclusively on the Sony PlatStation in Japan on 31 January 1997, in North American on 7 September 1997, and in PAL regions on 14 and 17 November 1997.

Final Fantasy VII was the highly-anticipated next-generation title in a franchise that had customarily been considered part of the ‘niche’ genre of JRPGs. Heavily marketed by Sony towards more ‘mainstream’ gamers, as a means of boosting the profile of the then-struggling Sony PlayStation, the title’s success represented an enormous coup: not only did Sony’s marketing pay off in terms of both PlayStation and game sales, it also vindicated SquareSoft’s decision to abandon their long but fraught partnership with Nintendo, changing the landscape of the game industry almost overnight. In the years to follow, Nintendo’s influence would diminish as Sony’s would grow, a circumstance which prevailed until only recently.

In the quarter century which followed the release of Final Fantasy VII, additional spin-off titles, movies, and remakes have followed, building upon and expanding the story of the original game into an international media franchise.

The original translation showed signs of haste.

In a break with the overall tradition of the series, the world of Final Fantasy VII situates the player within a society possessed of modern technology: electricity, automobiles, space programs, and metropolitan life, all powered through the wonder of mako, an energy source extracted by the Shinra company from within the planet. In clear parallels to the environmental conservation movement, the use of mako as an energy source is connected to the death of the planet itself. And, as the story of the game develops, still greater threats–the interplanetary calamities Jenova and Meteor–are revealed, pitting the game’s protagonists against both political and supernatural forces, and even against each other.

The battle system utilises the highly-popular Active Time Battle system (ATB) which had been a series staple since Final Fantasy IV, but incorporated the highly customisable materia system, which builds upon the customisability of the Esper system in Final Fantasy VI, allowing characters to learn specific spells, use specific abilities, and gain special attributes. Differing primarily in stats and weapon types, the characters are otherwise less structurally unique, allowing a level of customisation even exceeding that of the Job System found in Final Fantasy III and Final Fantasy V. The further development of critical mode from Final Fantasy VI into the Limit Break system, and the technological innovation of summon magic CGI, are some of the game’s most well-known features.

The death of Aerith is one of the most significant moments in video game narrative history.

Final Fantasy VII has been the subject of numerous re-releases, updates, and even an ongoing remake project. Later versions of the game sharpened the graphics, corrected the translation, and added features to make the game easier for children, infants, and video game journalists, ensuring that everyone can play through the famous experience of Final Fantasy VII, even when they are otherwise unable to play video games. The remake, which is more of a remimaging of the original game (although it relies upon understanding of the original story) is available as well, aimed both at audiences who care only about graphics, and also those fans of the original game who, out of a sense of masochism, wish to see their hopes and dreams of a respectful remake trampled underfoot by a band of psychotic, development goons.

Please use the comment thread below to discuss your approach to the game, challenges you have faced, strategies and content you have uncovered, and any aids you are using in your playthrough. Do you believe that Final Fantasy VII will be forgotten in favour of its modern ‘remake’? Do you prefer the menu-driven ATB to modern real-time button-mashing action? Do you find the exploration of the world liberating or confusing? What sorts of changes would you make to the game? What features would you add or remove? Tell us all about it and join in our discussion below! We will select some of the best comments, each week, for our podcast discussion.

The aim in this playthrough is to complete the entirety of the game by 7 October 2022. Instead of milestones, we encourage you to play at your own pace–but please keep us updated about your thoughts and progress as you play the game. This will help to sustain our discussion and encourage other players to complete the game, and it will guide us to know when it is time to close our playthrough. Please also make use of our official Discord channel, where we have an #events channel dedicated to playthrough chat.

Please join in with us and comment about your experience! Our playthrough is intended to encourage anyone and everyone to participate, regardless of speed of play or familiarity with the genre. Comment and tell your friends!

Without further adieu, we invite you to join The Starlight Megaphone‘s staff members and readers in Celebration of Final Fantasy VII: a Final Fantasy VII playthrough!

7 comments

  1. Currently in the market working on conducting some deception with a dashing dress and stunning makeup 😎

    I have a different story with this game than most I feel. I didn’t grow up playing it, in fact I first finished it inly maybe three or four years ago. I was very underwhelmed the first times I tried to play through it. I do tend to prefer fantasy settings and I thought Midgar was pretty unappealing. I guess I still kinda feel that way. I’m always eager to get out to the world map.

    However as I began playing it yearly for Materia Lockdown I have gained a much greater appreciation for the game. The music is very good. There are some very nice moments in the story too and the characters are memorable. So although it will never be my favorite I have definitely gained a fondness for it and I see how special it would be to someone who played it fresh when it came out. It had a huge influence on the genre!

  2. With the site having been down for a day as we did some necessary backend work, we’re going to extend our playthrough until 7 October. By then, TSM Episode 702 will be out, and we’ll hopefully have come comments to recap!

    I’m past Wall Market, having tricked out to the max. It’s a more fun episode when the Don selects Cloud, although I’ve played it the other way a few times as well. I did the sequence with my boys watching, and they were absolutely nailed to their chairs watching the destruction of the Plate Support Pillar in Sector 7. I’ve never seen them so gripped by a video game!

    Currently, I am at Aerith’s house after the plate-fall. I haven’t been able to play much in the way of games, because I have virtually no privacy and very little free time with my current residence arrangements at the University. I’m hoping that will change soon: I’m actively looking for alternative housing arrangements because this isn’t really workable in the long-term.

  3. I’m back in Princeton again and viewing new housing arrangements. It’s difficult, because I cannot really play video games AT ALL until I have different living arrangements. When I say difficult, I mean ‘crap’. Hopefully by next week or the week after, I’ll be able to say that I have things locked down with regard to future plans.

    Please keep posting your progress, so that I can live vicariously through your experiences! :(

  4. Little bit further. Golden Saucer underground. My last full playthrough was well….20 years ago. It’s feels familer but can’t really remember where to go next. I put it down for a day in the hopes I can look at it with fresh eyes. I think I’ll finish in time. I’m also playing at least 3 other games, in preperation of Tactics Ogre Reborn. ESO, Ogre Battle and Tactics Ogre: Knights of Lodis

  5. I’m trying to keep up with it while also having some other game or two I’m playing through. I’ve most recently gotten to Costa del Sol (where the music really takes you away), a bit overleveled due to how much it took to find Yuffie near Junon. Three girls fawning over Hojo wearing his labcoat on the beach, the rollercoaster rail (or railroad track, but I prefer the former) you run over in Mt. Corel, then going from basically a refugee camp into the spectacle of Golden Saucer; every location and movement of the game has something charming about it.
    “What you pursue will be yours. But you will lose something dear.”
    Having just picked up on an older save and finally played FFVII to completion for maybe the third time last month, it’s a bit soon, but it’s never disappointing. I love the beginning of the game which starts on such a high point and builds and releases tension nicely, but I’d always lose my steam leading up to the end of Disc 1 when I started playing it in the past 25 years (which I have done at least a dozen times in those years). It always felt front-heavy, but the only slog in it is spending time breeding and racing chocobos. It just stops the game for hours so you can eventually get Knights Of The Round, which you’d need to grind on to be able to use more than once during the final battle.

  6. I’m now just on the ship across from Junon. I forgot how many weird little minigames there are in the game. I was trying to proceed in the Fort Condor game, but kept failing so I’ve given up on completing all of those. Stuff like the CPR on that girl on the beach really confused me. I always think I’m doing it wrong as Cloud shakes his head each time! And then the one where you march along in line in Junon! The explanation makes no sense! A localisation issue I think. Anyway they are all fun little things with not too much consequence for performing poorly at least, and they break the game up and lighten the tone which is good.

    I’ve been trying to do everything that I missed on previous playthroughs this time around.

    FFVII is probably one of my favourite games of all time and I have good memories of playing it back in school at a friend’s house when it released. I had never seen anything like this game and it really sent me off down this path of loving JRPGs til this day.

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